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Dreamysyu

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  1. Like
    Dreamysyu reacted to onorub for a blog entry, Random Top 100, brand new decade edition   
    Previous: https://forums.fuwanovel.net/blogs/entry/2871-random-top-100-one-year-later/
     
    Managed to replace one fourth of the list again, which surprised me as i thought i would take at least two years for that. I will probably take 3 to 5 years to replace another fourth, as i read tons of top tiers in the last 14 months. Like before, "not a be-all-end-all list by any means and i care about choice-making gameplay a lot more than other VN fans do, so if some of my placements look ridiculous, that's why."
    youtube playlist version: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYFP5FO6EHdqvR4S0KWZDMllPXy3hZjaY (again, will update it along with the list in case one fourth is replaced)
    New entries are underlined.
     
    VNs i consider “borderline great”:
    100) Kizuato (fun characters, great introductory route, great set of joke endings)
    99) Hello, world (overall fun story, great set of normal endings)
    98) Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk (great world building and plot twists, good characters)
    97) Gekkou no Carnevale (good atmosphere, fun characters and story)
    96) Flowers: Volume sur Printemps (great art, charming characters, good use of mystery-solving)
    95) Flowers: Volume sur Automne (great art, charming characters, amazing slice-of-life)
    94) Dies Irae: Interview with Kaziklu Bey (great art and fight scenes)
    93) Baldr Force (good world-building and story)
    92) Ayakashi Gohan (favorite prologue in the genre, fun common route)
    91) Air (good story and characters, good soundtrack)
    90) The Letter (favorite branch system for a linear story)
    89) Symphonic Rain (charming art and soundtrack, great at subverting expectations)
    88) SeaBed (amazing atmosphere, interesting story)
    87) Raging Loop (great ending system and atmosphere, entertaining characters)
    86) We Without Wings (fun character interactions, good atmosphere)
    85) Narcissu (good story and ending buildup)
    84) Monster Girl Quest Paradox RPG (great rpg gameplay and world-building)
    83) Machi (amazing production values, fun story and characters)
    82) Iwaihime (good atmosphere and production values)
    81) Dengeki Stryker (entertaining story, great middle route)
    80) Collar x Malice (entertaining story, good set of villains)
    79) Chrono Belt (good atmosphere, story and fight scenes)
    78) Chaos;Head Noah (entertaining characters and choice-making, great main plot twist, good world building)
    77) Caucasus (great atmosphere and ending system)
    76) Rui wa Tomo o Yobu (entertaining characters, fun atmosphere)
    75) Remember11 (good characters, great ending system, interesting ending)
    74) Ourai no Gahkthun (good atmosphere and characters)
    73) Nijuuei (fun story, good atmosphere)
    72) Monster Girl Quest Trilogy (amazing gameplay, good story and characters)
    71) Kusarihime (amazing atmosphere and background usage, good characters and endings)
    70) Kurai Nichiyoubi (amazing ending system and atmosphere)
    69) Kajiri Kamui Kagura (interesting characters and story, fun fight scenes)
    68) Jingai Makyou (amazing ending system, fun story)
    67) Battle Goddess Verita (good story, great RPG gameplay)
    66) The House in Fata Morgana: A Requiem for Innocence (good story and characters, amazing art)
    65) Eiyuu*Senki (great gameplay, fun characters)
    VNs i consider “near-classics”:
    64) Ayakashibito (good world building, entertaining fight scenes and characters)
    63) Ayakashi (amazing production values, fun story)
    62) Angel Beats 1st Beat [2/4 routes done] (amazing choice-making, fun characters)
    61) Akaya Akashiya Ayakashino (great atmosphere and endings, entertaining characters)
    60) Akai Ito (entertaining protagonist, good atmosphere, favorite OP song)
    59) 3days (great choice-making, good multiple route mystery)
    58) 11eyes (good characters and fight scenes, great atmosphere)
    57) Tsujidou-san no Jun’ai Road (entertaining characters, good choice-making)
    56) Senshinkan Gakuen Hachimyoujin (fun characters, fight scenes and story)
    55) Sekien no Inganock (great art, great atmosphere, good characters)
    54) Sakura no Uta [1/5 routes done] (great atmosphere, interesting characters)
    53) Saihate no Ima (amazing atmosphere, interesting story)
    52) Root Double (amazing choice-making system, good true ending)
    51) Planetarian (good pairing, great dialogue)
    50) Virtue’s Last Reward (great ending system, good multiple route mystery)
    49) 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors (entertaining characters, good true ending)
    48) Kira Kira [2/4 routes done] (good characters, fun common route)
    47) ef a fairy tale of the two (great story in the second half, good characters)
    46) Chaos;Child (good choice-making system, good characters, good story)
    45) Bullet Butlers (amazing world-building, fun characters)
    44) 428: Shibuya Scramble (fun characters and story, amazing choice-making, greatest production values in the genre)
    43) Summer Pockets (fun common route, entertaining characters and story, great choice-making)
    42) Sharin no Kuni (favorite single villain, great story, great plot twist)
    41) Kara no Shoujo (great atmosphere, good mystery-solving)
    40) Aselia The Eternal (great world-building and New Game+ content)
    39) Cartagra (great art, entertaining characters, great endings)
    38) Aoishiro (great choice-making, entertaining bad ending branches on some routes)
    37) White Album 2: Introductory and Closing Chapters (fascinating characters, fun story and atmosphere)
    36) The Fruit of Grisaia (entertaining characters, good endings)
    35) Code: Realize (amazing common route, entertaining story and characters)
    34) Chou no Doku Hana no Kusari [3/5 routes done] (great atmosphere and protagonist, favorite set of bad endings, greatest use of soap opera elements)
    VNs i consider “classics”:
    33) Taishou Mebiusline (great route variety, good ending system, favorite song in the genre)
    32) Rose Guns Days (great story and characters, charming art)
    31) Mahoutsukai no Yoru (amazing production values, good story)
    30) Kamidori Alchemy Meister (great RPG gameplay, amazing New Game+ content)
    29) Battle Goddess Zero (favorite story in a VN-RPG hybrid)
    28) Cross Channel (fun characters, great choice-making and ending)
    27) Baldr Sky Dive1&2 (fun gameplay, story and world-building)
    26) Swan Song (amazing atmosphere, good story and characters)
    25) Steins;Gate 0 (good story and characters, great use of true ending)
    24) Sengoku Rance (entertaining characters, most replayable work in the genre due to amazing gameplay)
    23) Rewrite (entertaining characters, good story)
    22) Phantom of Inferno (entertaining story and characters, great atmosphere, great action scenes)
    21) Yumina The Ethereal (entertaining story, amazing use of multiple routes for a VN-RPG hybrid, great true ending)
    20) Kichikuou Rance (amazing gameplay and world-building)
    19) Kara no Shoujo 2 (great mystery, entertaining characters, great true ending, favorite ED song)
    18) G-Senjou no Maou (great true route, great soundtrack, favorite set of villains)
    17) Song of Saya (favorite atmosphere, amazing use of endings, fascinating characters)
    16) Muv Luv Alternative (great action scenes, great sci-fi atmosphere)
    15) YU-NO (amazing route system, good story and characters)
    14) Higurashi When They Cry + Kai (amazing story, great characters and soundtrack)
    13) Dies Irae (favorite fight scenes, entertaining characters and story)
    VNs i consider “classics among classics”:
    12) Umineko When They Cry + Chiru (favorite story, favorite soundtrack, great characters)
    11) Wonderful Everyday (great story, good mystery, good characters, great alternate endings)
    10) FullMetal Daemon Muramasa (great fight scenes, amazing protagonist, favorite antagonist buildup)
    9) The House in Fata Morgana (amazing story, favorite CG and character art, good choice-making, great soundtrack)
    8. Tsukihime (amazing choice-making, amazing atmosphere, great characters)
    7) MajiKoi (favorite overall character cast, most consistently entertaining work in the genre)
    6) Little Busters (favorite common route, great true route, favorite post-true end content)
    5) Hashihime of the Old Book Town [1/5 routes done] (amazing visual/sound directing and atmosphere, favorite protagonist, dialogues, monologues and written route)
    4) Ever17 (great story, favorite multiple route mystery, great true ending)
    VNs i consider “all-time greatests”
    3) Steins;Gate (great story, entertaining characters, favorite pairing, favorite ending)
    2) Fate/Stay Night (great story, favorite ending system, favorite overall route, favorite single choice)
    1) Clannad (favorite route system, high amount of optional scenes, amazing After Story, fully explores choice-making in a school drama setting)
    Top vnstat recommends:
    1) Aiyoku no Eustia
    2) Rance Quest through 10
    3) Baldr Heart
    4) Hanachirasu
    5) Kishin Hishou Demonbane
    6) Irotoridori no Sekai&Hikari
    7) Steins;Gate Phenogram&Darling
    8. Sumaga
    9) Outlaw Django
    Closing thoughts: After i finished Muramasa at the beginning of 2020, i seriously thought i could quit reading VNs without a shred of guilt because nothing would even sniff my top 5 again. Then Hashihime blew my mind and made me fall in love with the genre all over again. The fact that a doujin BL that a few hundred people would know about had it never gotten translated managed to get such a reaction out of me made it clear that a masterpiece can come from absolutely anywhere and now i'm on that rabbit hole more than ever in a way that it might take a ton of disappointments for me to get burned out ever again, specially now that i'm reading tons of untranslated stuff.
  2. Thanks
    Dreamysyu reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Thank you all for coming along for this ride! (Indefinite Hiatus)   
    Hey there all!
     
    I will start with saying  that I really treasure my time spent writing this blog and interacting with various people involved in the EVN community. You guys were awesome company in this journey and despite the obscurity of this project, I feel like it benefited me personally in many ways and maybe even helped people appreciate the value within the non-JP visual novel scene. I'm really thankful to all the people that read my blog, the devs that offered me their time and gave me their games for review – they all made these 2+ years into something special.
    When I started this project, there were two main things that motivated me. The first one was the frustration over dismissal of EVNs which is still common sense in the large parts of the VN fan community – belittling of the very games that made me fall in love with the visual novel formula. I wanted to create a space that is fully dedicated to discussion and promotion of EVNs as worthwhile and significant part of the genre. The second part was even more personal – my personal struggles with video game addiction and other issues, my ambition to shift my focus into a more challenging and creative activity. In many ways, I consider both my goals relative successes. While slowly, the perception of EVNs is changing and the scene evolving in interesting ways – while it shares pretty much all the suffering of other indie niches, with PC gaming in general being oversaturated and hard to navigate, I feel that it at least established itself as a significant formula that is attractive for story-oriented devs and appreciated by a significant audience. In other words, EVNs are here to stay and in time fewer and fewer people will be able to easily dismiss them as poor imitations of Japanese games. Whether my work had any impact in this regard? Apart from a bunch of people on Fuwanovel that I know I influenced in personal interactions, I honestly have no idea. I want to think there was some minor impact, but I had enough fun in the process and learned enough that I don't mind either way. I did my best and changed a few things about myself, which was the most important part for me.
    Of course, I'm in no way saying that I'm putting the blog on hiatus because my job here is done. The real reason is much more prosaic – I just can't keep up with it. The last month was particularly devastating in this regard, with very little time for me to either read or write. And while an obvious answer would be to just work at my own pace and publish stuff whenever I'm able to, it's not really something that would work out for me. Missing deadlines, thinking about future projects, it all became a source of stress rather than a source of fun, and I feel it would only get worse with time. While I really wanted to keep the project alive, I don't want to do so at any cost. I feel burned out. I barely read VNs for fun. I don't watch anime for a few months now. I need a change of pace and ability to rediscover my love for these hobbies. The blog, sadly, became a prime obstacle in this.
    So, what's going to happen now? The blog will cease to get updates, unless something special happens. I might still do game jam summaries, as those are something I massively enjoy. I might also publish something on Fuwanovel from time to time – I'm theoretically still an editor there. The one part of the project that's definitely here to stay is the Steam Curator account. The devs that sent me their games deserve to at least get a Steam review and, generally, an evaluation of their work. I will also use my Twitter to publish updates about new games listed on the Curator account. The Steam reviews themselves will likely be a bit more polished – not that much though, I don't want to jump straight into the same burnout-inducing rabbit whole.
     
    So, once more, thank you for sticking around and I hope my project gave you some amusement. And, of course, see you around – I'm not giving up on EVNs and the community around them any time soon.
  3. Like
    Dreamysyu reacted to alpacaman for a blog entry, Umineko's opening scene   
    The recent discussions about Umineko here on the forum made me want to pick up the whole damn thing again. Only this time I'm going spend even more time on it because I'm taking notes. I'll take the game's advice though and not focus on the howdunnits (which it argues are trivial and unimportant), but rather on what meaning is hidden inbetween. I'm doing this mostly for myself, though every now and then I might feel like turning my thoughts and interpretations into a blog post like this one.
    The German realist author Theodor Fontane (1819-1898) once said "the first chapter is always the main point, and within the first chapter the first page, almost the first line." While I think he is exaggerating a little bit and tbh I only opened with a quote of his to get a chance to mention how much I hate his writing (some of his novels are required reading in high-school in parts of Germany), it is true that the opening to a novel or any piece of fictional media can be a more important part of the work than it is often given credit for. Which brings us to Umineko's first scene. While it might not be the most spectacular example out there, I think it does what it sets out to do so well that it is worth taking a look at it from an analytical standpoint. I'm going to mention one or two twists that happen at later points in the VN, so you might not want read any further if you do not want to get spoiled.
    The scene takes place at an unspecified point in time in Kinzo's study with him, Nanjo (his doctor) and Genji (his head servant) present. It starts out with Nanjo telling Kinzo to lay off the alcohol as the medicine he prescribed to keep him alive won't work otherwise. Kinzo responds by saying the liquor (which has a sweet scent and a venomous green colour) has been with him longer than Nanjo, and that it is what is actually keeping him alive, not the medicine. Then he orders Genji to serve him another glass, but water it down a bit. Kinzo asks Nanjo how much time he has left, to which the doctor replies by comparing it to their chess match which is apparently entering its final stages and where Kinzo managed to corner Nanjo's king.  The physician suggests Kinzo should write a will, which the latter one heavily objects to: "...And what is a will, Nanjo? Handwritten instructions to the vultures on how to devour and scatter my corpse?" He wants to leave nothing behind and insists everything he built up during his life shall disappear with him, as it is part of the deal he made. He goes on to speak about his only regret, which is not being able to see the smile of the witch Beatrice once more, resulting in him screaming at thin air offering his remaining life to her for her to appear before him one last time. Opening Credits roll.
    The main thread running through the scene is a lingering conflict between what is "real" and what isn't, already introducing one of the main themes of the VN. This starts with the setting and props: There is no real indication if what you see takes place in the real world or some fantasy realm nor does it properly fit into any specific timeframe. The occult study, Kinzo's gown and the venomous green liquor all make the whole scene look surreal, but then there is also a real world physician doing standard medical examinations. In this sense the whole dialogue between Nanjo and Kanzo can be read as a conflict between material reality and fantasy, with Nanjo and his medicine or science representing the former and Kinzo having completely embraced the latter. Nanjo tries to bring Kinzo to care about his own physical wellbeing and his remains (stand-ins for material reality), both of which the latter one doesn't care at all about. The liquor in this context is basically a metaphor for fantasy. It has an inviting scent but looks like venom. It poisons Kinzo and according to him is what actually keeps him alive at the same time. His addiction turns his health and life miserable (as well as those of his children), while it is also what keeps him going. The booze or rather fantasy keeping him alive is also rather funny imo considering we later learn that, while he is part of all the "non-real" scenarios, in "real life" he has already been dead for quite a while. [It has been some time since I read the VN the first time so I don't really remember if the booze motif gets used at other points but it is one of the things I am going to keep an eye on this time around.]
    One of the main and more obvious purposes of an opening scene is to make the audience want to read on, usually by using a narrative hook. In this case it is the question about Beatrice's existence. You immediately ask yourself what the deal is with a witch that might or might not be real and that some weird and menacing old man is apparently trying to summon. Her (non-)presence is one of the main threads running through the whole VN and it gets established in the very first scene. This hook also ties right back into the overarching uncertainty of the scene about what is "real" and thus one of the main themes of the VN.
    The whole scene imo exemplifies pretty well what Umineko excels at, namely tying its separate narrative layers together. From the outset, characterization, plot, horror, fantasy, metaphor and theme are never truly separable but form a coherent and interwoven whole. I only implicitely talked about characterization and didn't even talk about why Genji is present in the scene at all or about the introduction of the chess motif (or the Kinzo being dead before the end of the game part). But since I already spent too much time writing this I'll keep it with one of Umineko's core messages and let you figure out how these things tie into the rest yourselves.
  4. Thanks
    Dreamysyu reacted to mitchhamilton for a blog entry, The Grisaia Series is Kind of Genius   
    Until it's not. HA! GOT YOU, YOU STUPID SHIT! I pulled you into false sense of security and BAM! subverted your expectations! 
     
    Before you go on, I want you to know that this will have spoilers to all 3 The Fruit of Grisaia games so quickly read all of them and come back if you haven't already.
     
    But anyways, I decided to delve a little bit into the anime of Grisaia no Kajitsu and while the opening text displayed over each character as they are presented on screen I began to think about my own interpretation of the characters from the series and how it does a great job of somewhat subverting the anime/visual novel trope with it's characters. Feels like this is what Doki Doki Literature Club tried to do but instead of being smart it instead did "hey, reader, wouldn't be weird if one of the cute girls started bleeding from their eyes? Pretty creepy for a visual novel with cute anime girls set in a school environment." But Grisaia somewhat embraces these tropes and turns them on their head. Instead of taking place in a high school environment where only a few characters matter and therefor have actual names and faces it takes the approach of having it still set in a high school where literally only the important characters exist since there's no one else in the school!
     
    I've honestly never noticed the subtle genius of this on Grisaia's part. How many visual novels have you read where the entire school is nothing but background noises? They do away with the pointlessness of background characters altogether and make them literally isolated because that's pretty much how it is in every VN. It's this type of subtlety I enjoy from an almost parody to visual novels.
     
    Well, what about the character's themselves? Well, I'm glad you asked, me! You have the usual character tropes in Grisaia, sure. There's the tsundere, the unapproachable one, the obedient one, the slut, the loli, all of whom who you expect certain traits from but again, it subverts your expectations.
     
    The tsundere takes on a facade to hide her own identity, so her own action of trying to be a tsundere is simply so she can hide the real part of her. Christopher Nolan must be turning in his grave thinkign he couldn't come up with a character this deep in cliches! The unapproachable girl is so unapproachable that she tries to kill Yuuji, LITERALLY! The obedient one acts like the childhood friend because... well, she is and even goes to far as to dress up as a maid. The slut instantly attaches herself to the MC and offers her body, not out of her own personal feelings but because she feels she needs to be punished. The loli's character is a result of her abuse as a child  causing her to be emotionally stunted.
     
    All characters have an underlining dark reason for why they fall into these cliches which pulls the reader in to learn more and honestly, I'm sad I never caught any of this in my first or second read through of the series. It's so well done, so subtle that it makes me really appreciate the first VN more looking back on it and I'm glad I went back to the anime to remember all this.
     
    ...And then the sequels came out. 
     
    Yeah, remember that first bit of this blog? If not, might want to scroll up some. It's the bit about bringing you into a salse fense of security.
     
    Yeah, you read that right and I did that on purpose. What are you gonna do now?
     
    My comrades @DarkZedge and @Dergonu informed me that later entries in the series involved Yuuji ending up in a harem with every girl. I don't know how to look at this angle as more than fan service and undermining the emotional investment I had with the characters, especially when the first one was doing so well in NOT succumbing to your typical visual novel tropes, although there was the  Makina's sex scenes with Yuuji where this emotionally damaged girl is having sex with someone who she views as her papa shivers but then the sequels do fall into the biggest trope of all, the "everyone wants the MC's dick" trope. Every girl who he slightly breathes in the direction of wants to be a part of his life.
     
    This cliche has infested the anime, manga, and visual novel world like a cancer and in visual novels its more acceptable since you project yourself into the character more often than not and therefor feel fulfilled as a person while your visual novel counter part is fully filling your waifus with his massive love!
     
    But I digress. Grisaia felt smarter than that, I felt more respect for the character's before I learned they all fell into this overused trope. I feel like the series went on for one more visual novel long than it should have, like The Hobbit movies. We get a whole backstory of Yuuji's training, his life with his master which was nice but to top it all off we get a plot about a father figure of his coming back and causing a mess with all the girls coming together to save him in the end, or something.
     
    You know, now that I'm thinking about it, I feel like I remember nothing about the 3rd one, aside from a fight with the dude, and seeing his sister again but when I do think back on it I just feel like it wouldn't have missed anything to be a bit more condensed, cause that's what remembering it is like. I can't remember anything aside from bits and pieces because those were the ones the set itself the most from this overly long series.
     
    "No, don't you see, Mitch?! They subvert your expectations again by making each character unique and he STILL ends up with all of them? Isn't that clever?" That's fine and all but the girls were dealing with crippling emotional baggage that was dealt with one by one and felt we had actual climax to, and not the climax Yuuji got in Amane's massive vagina! 
     
    I would've preferred if Yuuji died, cause I'm american and that's how we end every series these days. That or they think he died and he decided to start a new peaceful life while the girls must take their once again broken lives and rebuild the pieces but this time with more efficiency thanks to Yuuji. As opposed to the alternative route where they live on an island, ignore their problems and have everything solved by sweet, juicy Yuuji cum!
     
    Though I will say I did like the implication that the routes at some point all converge, so he sleeps with all of them while solving their problems. But then the problem arises with Amane's where it goes deep into the future with them being happily married then eventually dying. And you know what? That's perfectly fine with me.
  5. Thanks
    Dreamysyu reacted to Zalor for a blog entry, The Function of Ellipses in VNs   
    VNs sometimes get criticized for their overuse of the ellipse (…). And I suppose I'll start my defense of the use of ellipses in VNs, by extending an olive branch. VNs do misuse the ellipse to an astounding degree, and I have an interesting little anecdote demonstrating this point. In college, me and some friends decided to spend a Friday night getting drunk and reading the worst VNs we could find. We stumbled upon Gender Bender DNA Twister Extreme. There is a LOT wrong with this VN, but a glaringly consistent detail of bad writing we all noticed was the excessive use of ellipses. After we all collectively noticed and pointed out how often ellipses were being used, we decided to start counting every instance of an ellipse we spotted. Keep in mind, they had already been used plenty before we even started to count. Before we even reached a total playtime of 1 hour, we counted over 100 uses of ellipses, and gave up counting after that. I share this anecdote for two reasons. Firstly, as a petty example that Gender Bender DNA Twister Extreme is horrible and I almost want to say it has no right to exist. And secondly that overall I am in agreement that ellipses do get misused often in VNs. So I am not entirely attacking this point of criticism, but I do think that many who do champion this specific criticism of VN writing miss one very important function that the ellipses achieves in VN writing, that it can't achieve in traditional print.
    The written word as it is presented in VNs is transient. With each click you typically receive one line at a time. And after a certain point all the lines disappear and you are greeted with fresh words from the top of the screen if NVL, or the top of the dialogue box if ADV. Furthermore often (though not always), sentences aren't displayed whole at once. But rather they get displayed in a sort of typewriter effect. This means that regardless of whether the narrative is in past tense or present tense, the occurrence of the text and the story to the reader will always be in the present. Character dialogue, internal monologues, narrative descriptions, it is all being presented to us in real time.
    A book on the other hand has everything written out and open to display. You can scan the whole page as well as the next page, and you have equal access to every page of the book at any given time. Want to skip to the ending? Well the medium can't stop you. This is not true of VNs. You can fast-forward, but you can't just skip to the end. The only way you can typically access specific parts of a VN is by creating a save point and therefore being able to load it up whenever you want. But you only have that option for everything you already read, you can't just pick and load sections you haven't experienced yet. Because for all intense and purposes, that's in the future. It hasn't happened yet. In other words, there is a sense of time in how the narrative of a VN gets expressed.
    Well in VNs, the ellipse can be used to demarcate time and expression. In this way, VNs can literally show the passage of time, without having to tell it. And I always thought the golden rule of writing was “show don't tell”, in this function the ellipse is being used optimally to show and not tell.
    Here is an example of how I would write a certain passage if I were writing it for a book/short-story, and then I will proceed to rewrite it for a VN.
     
    Novel/Short-story:
    “I don't know about that,” she briefly paused while biting her lip, “you sure it will be okay?”
    Visual Novel coded in Renpy:
    “I don't know about that...{w=1.5} you sure it will be okay?”
     
    The {w=1.5} is a wait command in Renpy that pauses the text for 1.5 seconds before resuming the rest of the line. Without having to tell the reader “she briefly paused”, we literally showed the pause by manipulating the speed in which the text gets displayed. The ellipse helps signal to the reader that the character is hesitating to express her thoughts, while the {w=1.5} command is running in the background.
    Now if the detail of “biting her lip” is also important to you. You would have to script things slightly differently, but you could make it that after the ellipse her sprite changes and bites her lip and you hold on that image for 1.5 seconds, before transitioning back to her previous expression and continue the text. So now you not only showed her hesitation and the gap in time it took for her to finish her thought, but you also showed her expression change. This is a way you can “show and not tell” with VNs that you could never achieve when writing for traditional print media.
  6. Like
    Dreamysyu reacted to kivandopulus for a blog entry, Princess Frontier [AXL]   
    Foreword: Fantasy AXL work. Of course I'm in.

    Synopsis: 
    Ryu is a practice knight. One day, he accidentally stumbles during an important ceremony and his life turns around 180 degrees. He is degraded to a boss of a security group stationed on the edge of nowhere.
    A few days later, when he arrives the village, his coworkers welcome him. And he somehow enjoys his country life there through various troubles and accidents. One day, a boy comes to the village. He is arrogant and unyielding. He turns out to be the princess who shunted him....
    Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLs4Gp5VU4Fv9wgTC9rvOcsjNvddNrT6i8
    Game type: Fantasy romcom
    Character Design rating: 10/10
    Protagonist rating: 9/10
    Story rating: 8/10
    Game quality: 10/10
    Overall rating: 9/10
    Fantasy makes every work better, so it's usual score + 1... I might say that, but it's not that simple. Moreover, I start to see disparity among AXL works.

    Princess Frontier scenario is written by Kitagawa Samui, author of Kimi no Koe ga Kikoeru. These two works are different from other two AXL works of Hasegawa Ai by number of heroines and side-characters. As for me, five heroines is a bit excessive and more difficult to focus, but four heroines much easier to process. It's a minor difference, but side-characters make a huge difference. Kimikoe and Princess Frontier have absolutely superb male side-characters. In kimikoe there were nerd friend, simpleton powerhouse friend and bad aristocratic friend/rival. Princess frontier has equally colorful side cast - simpleton knight Tristan, pervert oyaji Homero and bad noble friend Jin. This makes Kitagawa Samui games really lively comedies in contrast to Shield 9 that astonished me for the lack of humor. AXL is back on track and kicking. While we're still at humor part, I should note wide and clever usage of SDCG for comical effect. But for me it also means that I'd want to avoid Hasegawa Ai, especially if work is centered on real world nobility, butlers and maids, all the stuff. I'm inclined to skip "Like a Butler" unless there is like nothing else to play in February 2009.

    AXL games excel in creating pleasant atmosphere, but here there is also focus on friendship and cooperation. It may be called our usual overcoming problem with heroine trope, but the difference is that it's not girl's innate personal problem, but it's external problem arising from girl's background. And it's not that protagonist does all the work, but problem solved in tight cooperation. I also appreciate that four girls are from different professions in contrast to everyone being just high school student in Shield 9.

    Game system is inherited from Shield 9 with the same options to skip general route pieces inserted into heroines routes, but it's done so much more clever this time. There are like only 2-3 skips incorporated compared to dozens encountered in Shield 9 inside every individual route. This is also achieved by rather late branching so that common route takes over 60% of total screen time. In result common route took me almost 12 hours to play, plus some 7 hours on average for each individual route. That's quite a lot, and story can be called extended. But Princess Frontier is not that much about capturing a heroine or getting to story climax. It's mostly about enjoying humor, and it can be done at any point of the game, so I don't consider big length a problem.

    Princess Frontier is so far the most enjoyable AXL work for me. It amplifies all the best parts and learns from dubious experiments of Shield 9. AXL fans will love it, and if someone expected revolutionary changes or different genre elements - it's their problem, not brand's.

  7. Like
    Dreamysyu reacted to Zalor for a blog entry, Umineko Mid-Point Impressions (SPOILER FREE)   
    Umineko is a beast of a work that I've been putting off for many years now, probably around a decade. I first learned about it after watching the Higurashi anime back in 2010. At first I stayed away because I wasn't a fan of Ryukishi07's sausage-finger art. However these days it seems that most common ports of Umineko utilize updated art. But, that still left one other huge factor for why I was so intimidated by Umineko for so long.
    The estimated reading time of both the Question and Answer arcs is around 150 hours. That's a huge time commitment, and I am not a particularly patient or fast reader. If a book doesn't grab my interest within the first couple of chapters I feel no remorse in dropping it. And I apply that same rule to everything I read or watch. So works that have slow starts but supposedly “get better, I promise it gets way better if you continue with it!”, are works I generally avoid. But hey, Subahibi proved to be exceptional and I had a hunch that Umineko would prove to be as well.
    Essentially the whole coronavirus lockdown presented me with a rare opportunity to finally tackle Umineko. My last semester of Uni got delayed by over a month, and I figured if ever in my life I would have time to read Umineko it would be now. So I purchased the Steam releases of the Question and Answer arcs and installed the voice patch. Which by the way was a slight pain in the ass to do, since the voice-patch is banned in Japan for some copyright protection reasons. However using a VPN managed to solve that problem.
    To date I've read the first 5 episodes of Umineko including their associated tea party chapters. Which according to Steam clocks me in at 88 hours (I wasn't kidding about being a slow reader).
    I admire the balls it took for Ryukishi07 to literally take the most cliched premise of a “dark and stormy night in an isolated mansion” mystery setup, and to turn that premise so much on its head that my attention is wrapped entirely in the web of the narrative he has setup. And without being pretentious about it, Umineko makes it clear that the mystery genre, and literature in general, is something that Ryukishi07 holds dear to his heart. It is very much a love letter to the mystery genre, while also being a complete deconstruction of it.
    More than that though, it isn't just the plot which is masterly crafted, but what makes it standout is that it truly fleshes out its entire cast. Characters aren't just there to be pieces in a puzzle to solve, even if at first they may all seem to be fairly generic. Gradually as the layers peel, you will see the facade in much of the interactions between the family and all the conflicting and complex motives various characters hold beneath the surface. And above all, they are all sympathetic despite being quite flawed.
    If I had to pick one character in particular that was surprisingly much more complex then I anticipated, it would be the 9 year old Maria. I fully expected her to be a simple little kid character, who was there mostly to just be cute or maybe to be used for cheap tragedy. No, far from it. Even Maria has complex motives of her own that reach surprising levels of depth. And so if even the initial impression of a 9 year old can be deceptive, I think we can easily imagine that being true for the rest of the cast as well.
    What I found consistently very impressive about the work, is that as I mentioned previously I am not a patient reader. I hate it when stories have segments of seemingly dull character interactions to establish build up. This usually gets me in an irritated mood where I think, “This better be building up to something great, because I'm in no mood to settle for good.” And invariably, every single time so far that Umineko ordered for my extended patience, it was rewarded well beyond my expectations.
    A story that I initially found off putting precisely because of its length, is now a story I don't want to end. The irony, huh.
     
     
  8. Thanks
    Dreamysyu reacted to alpacaman for a blog entry, Steins;Gate and Your Inner Child   
    Spoilers for Steins;Gate ahead! 
    As far as I'm aware, most deeper discussions of Steins;Gate revolve around one of two of its more obvious central aspects. On one hand its time travel mechanics tend to get picked apart a lot, with arguments about whether they make sense, if Rintarou basically destroying whole timelines renders the plot meaningless, and so on. On the other hand its theme of the dangers of humans playing god gets brought up a lot, pointing to how you cannot create an outcome where everyone is happy. While both of these things are among what makes S;G special, I think they are only part of its larger theme of fate and how we as humans learn to deal with it as we grow up.
    Did you notice how there is no actual main villain in Steins;Gate? The Committee? The threat it poses always remains somewhat abstract. Mayuri dies regardless of whether they intervene or not. Even once they get a face in the form of Moeka and Mr. Tennouji, they turn out not to be some super-villains but an emotionally vulnerable woman tricked into doing bad things and a single-father trying to make ends meet for his daughter. Thus there is no real sense of victory in beating them, there are just two more people to feel sorry about getting wound up in the larger scheme of things. Also, once Rintarou beats the Committee, they immediately get replaced by a new menace, namely the threat of World War III. Both these threats are, on a metaphorical level, manifestations of the greater hardships life has in store for you. You can never achieve total victory in life, there will always be threats beyond your control, and the only thing you can do is try to find the best trade-off for yourself and everyone else. But more often than not there is going to be someone who gets hurt by these decisions (this point actually gets brought up rather often in discussions about the “Changing your Past” theme, but I think this also plays into my argument, so I thought I'd mention it here).
    Then what about Doctor Nakabachi? He also is just a clog in the machine. He doesn't have some great agenda or even the ability to foresee the consequences of his actions. He is just some scientist with an ego hurt so deeply he would even murder his own daughter if it meant he could get recognized by his peers. Consequently the final showdown isn't about Rintarou beating him in a fight (which would have been easy, considering Rintarou is probably physically more capable and having the advantage of the element of surprise), but about tricking fate.
    I'll come back to both Nakabachi and the true ending later. First I want to talk about how the character arcs in S;G tie into its overarching theme of learning to grow up in the face of calamity. All side heroines who send messages to the past have somewhat parallel arcs (except maybe Moeka, who I already talked about). They revolve around them learning to come to terms with some great misfortune, usually after being shown what life would have been like without it ever befalling them. The story even shows how they live happier lives after accepting their fates. Suzuha has to give up on her time with the lab members or the prospect of ever finding her father, but in turn she achieves her goal of securing the IBN 5100 and lives a happy adult life instead of losing her memories and committing suicide once she remembers her failure. Faris losing her father turns her from a princess waiting to be saved by a white knight into a responsible adult who basically rebuilds a whole part of Tokyo the way she wants. Luka learns her happiness is not tied to her physical sex and that her friends are more important than what her genitals look like (yeah, S;G doesn't handle her character all that well). Their setbacks actually make them grow as human beings. One important aspect about this growth is that they don't just keep part of their inner child intact, it also propels said growth. Suzuha sees her younger self in the adolescent Mr. Tennouji when she takes him in. Faris keeps her love for otaku culture and uses it to transform Akihabara. And in Luka's case, her swordfight roleplay with Rintarou gives her the power to carry on.
    Which brings us to Rintarou's character arc. At the beginning of the story, he is basically still a child refusing to grow up. His childish side manifesting as a chuuni alter ego, the mad scientist Hououin Kyouma, seems fitting, seeing how chuunibyou translates to “eighth-grader-syndrome”. Hououin Kyouma is self-absorbed, stupid, careless, and in his own way pretty naive. In the first half, Rintarou is scared of what it means to be an adult, and whenever he feels insecure because of this, he delegates control to his alter ego. Then, when Mayuri dies, he is forced to acknowledge how useless this approach is once confronted with real calamity, but doesn't know what to do instead, so he tries to just turn things back to the way they were before, turning to Kurisu, the most adult and cool-headed of the characters, for help most of the time. The realization that there is no going back as it would mean letting Kurisu die forces him to finally accept the reality of having to become an adult. He sees it as his responsibility to try to save Kurisu, but fails. He only succeeds once he embraces Hououin Kyouma again. This time though, Hououin Kyouma isn't his shield for whenever he doesn't want to confront his anxieties, but rather the spark of positivity and creativity that helps him overcome the seemingly insurmountable adversity in front of him. I guess the name Houou(Phoenix)-in Kyouma (unspeakable truth) becomes pretty self-explanatory foreshadowing once you look at it this way. From this point of view, it also makes total sense that Rintarou's final showdown is against Doctor Nakabachi, who is also a mad scientist, but whose joy for his fringe science got turned into mediocrity through bitterness and pettiness, and is thus the antithesis to the reborn Hououin Kyouma.
    Mayuri and Kurisu as characters are also built around the theme of growing up. Mayuri is basically childlike naivete turned to flesh and a symbol for Rintarou's childhood days. Thus his attempt to save her is an attempt to recreate their innocent past. Him distancing himself further from her the longer his journey to save her takes is also a signifier for how this goal is getting further away from him. Her slapping him once he fails to save Kurisu is the culmination of this, showing that there is no going back to the carefree days back at the lab (I still don't like how she gets fridged and turned into a macguffin simultaneously, but whatever). As for Kurisu, her status as a child prodigy caused her to only be around adults from a very young age, forcing her to grow up very quickly and suppress her more childish personality traits. Thus the general carefree atmosphere of the lab draws her in and over the course of the VN she learns to feel more comfortable with her more youthful character traits.
    The true ending also makes a little more sense from this angle than with the “don't play god” interpretation. The latter telling you there are no objectively perfect choices and playing with fate tends to make things worse rather than better gets rejected by the true ending as Rintarou gets his total victory by finding a loophole in the rules of the universe and basically cheats fate. But if you look at it as a story about embracing your inner child, it makes some sense. “Of course you can't escape fate” and “there are no perfect endings” is the way a grown-up without imagination thinks. But who can prove them wrong if not Hououin Kyouma, the ultimate adolescent?
  9. Like
    Dreamysyu reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, NaNoRenO 2020 Highlights, Pt 2 – Horror (Updated)   
    Hello and welcome to the second part of my NaNoRenO 2020 coverage, where I’ll be going through the most noteworthy games submitted to the most recent edition of the biggest EVN game jam. While in the first part I focused on otome and other GxB romantic VNs, this time I’ll tackle the niche that, in my opinion, contained some of the best projects in the whole event – horror. Once more, I’ll be focusing on complete projects, rather than many demos and prototypes that get submitted to NaNoRenO – and thanks to the extended deadline devs worked with this year, that’s still a lot of interesting content.
                    One game from the previous post, Dream Dilemma, also fits into this week’s theme besides featuring GxB romance – however, it was a rather unremarkable, simplistic game and most of those I’ll be writing about today are anything but that. So, please join me in this quick overview of NaNoRenO 2020 horror VNs – and as always, whenever one of them catches your attention, clicking its title in the list will get you straight to its Itch.io games. Of course, all the titles I’m covering are completely free to play. Let’s have some scary (and slightly messed up) fun!
    Divilethion

    Divilethion is far from your typical scary VN, tilting more to the side of grotesque horror-comedy, with visuals and writing style that contrast heavily with the grim essence of its story – and do so in a brilliant, at times hilarious way. The game follows Lynn, a young high priest in an isolated village “protected” by a monstrous god named Divilethion. While the entity is the only guarantee of survival for the community surrounded by monster-infested swamps and regularly plagues by disasters, the price for its “miracles” is steep – every time, a villager has to be sacrificed and his heart fed to Devilethion. Lynn, cynical and disturbingly diligent about his duties, is soon put to the greatest test yet by the apparently bored deity, asked to sacrifice one thing he might not be willing to give up…
                    As serious as this story setup might sound, what sets its tone as primarily a dark comedy is Lynn’s warped perception of the reality around him and the grotesque enthusiasm Divilethion requires from his worshippers. This combined with an unrelenting writing style, never shying away from harsh language and disturbing story developments, creates a striking experience that will likely keep you engaged all the way through, to either a relatively-positive or deeply unsettling conclusion. While overall the game is relatively short, it’s just so full of personality and meaningful story developments it’s hard to not be satisfied with it. I deeply recommend checking it out – very few hour-long VNs left me with such a strong impression.
    Final Rating: Highly Recommended
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  10. Like
    Dreamysyu reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Mizuchi 白蛇心傳 (Yuri VN Review)   
    Anyone observing the EVN scene should know well that yuri, besides being my personal obsession, is one of the most vibrant niches for non-JP visual novels, with many studios and creators dedicated to this theme and a very active fanbase. This seems to be particularly clear nowadays, as even companies like Winged Cloud, the infamous producers of low-effort VN smut, capitalized majorly on the trend, producing mostly GxG games for the past few years. On the other side of the spectrum, Studio Elan recently pushed the standard of quality for EVNs in general with their modern fairy tale, Heart of the Woods. As a result, yuri fans have a lot to choose from, both when it goes to quality work and amusing trash.
                    The game I’ll be writing about today, Aikawa Collective’s Mizuchi 白蛇心傳, definitely aimed for the “quality” side of the spectrum and seemed like something that could rival Studio Elan’s hit with its climate and visual spectacle. This yuri-themed retelling of the famous Chinese folk tale, the Legend of the White Serpent, looked spectacular in its promotional material and easily reached its Kickstarter goal of $8500 in September 2018. While the development cycle for it proved long, going 9 months beyond its initial target of August 2019, it never lost its place as a promising and highly-anticipated yuri EVN. Releasing on Steam and Itch.io in mid-April 2020, it gathered overwhelmingly positive feedback – but, did it truly live up to the hype?
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot. com
  11. Like
    Dreamysyu reacted to littleshogun for a blog entry, The Whimsical Sky Review   
    For this week title I'd just literally translate 'Kimagure' from Kimagure Temptation and 'Sora' from Yosuga no Sora into 'Whimsical' and 'Sky' respectively then combined both words, so we have 'The Whimsical Sky' as this week VNTS Review title. I did a bit more searching and find out that there's a picture called Whimsical Sky, and of course I wouldn't write my opinion on the picture here. Welcome to this week VNTS Review, and as for this week I would say that this week is quite calm after a big release (Sakuramori) and several announcements so more or less technically it's an average one. That said, I still like this week though if only because we finally have Yosuga no Sora fully translated after nine years of works along with the first update in Ginharu after three weeks of absences, so overall its not too bad to me here. Anyway let's see what I can write for this week VNTS Review here.
    This week we have JAST released this nukige in which apparently it's a sequel of a doujin VN, and apparently based on Monster Girl Encyclopedia. While I must admit that it's not too bad here, in the end it's still smaller release from JAST so hopefully they'll be able to up their game to finally released Kimikoi on time (Shouldn't be affected by pandemic as long as they chose to release it in digital version only I think). We also have good news from Frontwing, in that they'll release Yukikoi at 29th later. I wonder if they'll reveal their next project to us later on, in which the next project could be Hatsumira if we look at several info seeing that they said that they've been planned to localized it.
    From Sekai we finally have Nine Episode 3 release, in which it's at 5% translated. While it's pretty much inevitable that Sekai will get Nine Episode 4 here, I still hoping that Sekai will manage to get it and if possible repeat their achievement to release two episodes in a year like back at 2019 (If only for Tsubasu's art here). By the way Nine Episode 4 was scheduled to be released at 24th later, and hopefully it's the last episode for Nine VN here. For more updates, we have Nekogami back into QA in which it probably mean that Sekai was about to make sure that it's free of bug, and Amairo Chocolata was at 65% translated. In any case, I'll look forward to whatever Sekai will announce in their 'AX from home' here if they want it seeing that usually their bigger announcement was usually happened at AX.
    As for Mangagamer's update, we have Escalayer finalizing the release build and Rance 01 was finished the testing (Both of those are coincidentally from Alicesoft). They also have one more secret project, in which currently was fully translated and edited along with finishing the image editing for the project. As for the first secret project, currently it was at 70% translated along with 68% edited. From the updates, at least I can estimate that the next release from them here would be Escalayer. While for the second secret project, for now I can only guess that it would be a short VN although of course I might be wrong here.
    We have Angel Beats was passed 90% mark (93.60%) translated and Miotsukushi Ura was at 24% translated. For more updates, we have both of Yosuga no Sora Motoka's route along with Ginharu Momiji's route were fully translated. The former is more important, because Yosuga no Sora here is a nine years old project and Motoka's route here is the last route to be translated. While normally we should celebrate this occasion because we also have full translation patch available, the patch itself is still not completed just like Rhapsody because the team said that it's still need some editing and QC for the translation to be completed, so I'll just consider it as partial release. Still if you want to play Yosuga no Sora VN after nine years of waiting, feel free to try the patch and have fun. For Ginharu here, we finally have an update after three weeks of absences and with Momiji's route fully translated we have overall Ginharu was at 62.57% translated. While Irru did say that we better not expect the patch in another month, I'm still hoping that we'll get it in June's end at the fastest though so let's just wait and see here.
    That's all for this week VNTS Review, and see you next week.
  12. Like
    Dreamysyu reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Rainbow Dreams (Western VN Review)   
    Epic Works is a pretty unique phenomenon in the EVN scene: an African studio, developing games openly inspired by the Type-Moon visual novels and other classic chuunige. Their first release, Episicava, was something of a glorious trainwreck, launching with multiple technical problems and borderline-unbearable, edgy storytelling replicating most of the worst tropes of the chuuni game subgenre. The follow-ups included an unholy abomination of a nukige known as Analistica Academy, and a clunky and inconsistently written, but occasionally appealing RPG VN The Adventurer’s Tale. None of them proved genuinely impressive, but each showed some forms of progress, particularly in the visual department, which by the time of The Adventurer’s Tale’s release got both appealing and consistent in style and quality.
                    As unhealthy curiosity is one of the driving forces behind my blogging endeavours, I couldn’t stop myself from being attracted by the studio’s second Kickstarter campaign, aimed at creating another chuunige-style VN in the Episicava universe (although with no direct connection to the latter’s main plot). Despite my disappointment with their debut titles, I was very interested whether this new project, Rainbow Dreams, would represent an improvement for the studio and correct the massive issues with tone and writing quality those earlier games suffered from. And despite apparent development issues and heavy delays, resulting in a January 2020 Steam release, I’m happy to say that while not all problems were remedied to an appropriate degree, when it comes to the sheer entertainment factor, Rainbow Dreams is a major step in the right direction.
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  13. Like
    Dreamysyu reacted to Zakamutt for a blog entry, Countdown to silence: a VN recommendation/review   
    The story of how I came to read this EVN is kind of like Countdown to silence itself. It started out with a bit of comic relief mingled with human drama (The dev came in and posted a link on the Fuwanovel discord and I grilled him for a bit because my ego is large and my opinions voluminous, but he managed to at least catch my interest). Then trouble struck (My Internet’s been down for hours now and it’s doing a number on me), but this led to some exciting events (I played the VN on a whim and it turned out to actually be good). The ending… well, my Internet’s still not back on, can someone tell the wankers over at Comhem to hurry up and get my router a bloody IP address? Thanks in advance.
    13 hours later, I finally have the connection necessary to post this. Holy fuck.

    Countdown to Silence takes place in a world where (entirely benevolent and harmless) experiments intended to give humans superpowers have succeeded, but in an unexpected fashion: only their kids got a splash with the supe brush. This ability is called IO for “Information Overlay”, and true to its name it presents itself as an overlay showing you certain information – with varying levels of usefulness depending on your specific ability. The protagonist and (voiced!) narrator, Josh, didn’t get particularly lucky with his: all it shows him is a countdown to when people will speak to him next. While there are _some_ uses for this, it mostly doesn’t give him much benefit. His best friend Kyle has a much better ability: seeing potential conversation choices when talking to people, potentially revealing their secrets but also making him a great guy to talk to. The setting and abilities are used surprisingly well in the story, but don’t expect anything about uncovering government conspiracies or rebelling against society or whatever, it’s just accepted as a Thing in universe. You could probably rewrite the thing without the abilities, but it wouldn’t have the same zing to it, so I can’t say I’m bothered.
    No, but self-isolation does, so basically half of us are in the system now.
    The VN walks a delicate line between drama and comedy, and will frequently take the edge off tense moments with a comedic segment before ramping up the tension again. Thankfully, it succeeds in the balancing act; neither the comedy nor the drama are cheapened too much by its counterpart. The humor does have indulgent parts; the main character is a weeb into magical girl shows for kids. This doesn’t get too grating in my opinion, and it’s only mentioned in like three scenes, but after reading this many EVNs I still feel it’s a bit cliché. Otherwise, I would describe it as… a bit camp, I guess? On the low end of the scale though. I swear to god if the creator of this isn’t British I need to get my tea-dar fixed.
    Nisemonogatari >>> Bakemonogatari
    So why do I like it so much? Well, first of all, the plotting is tight: it doesn’t waste time, keeps you interested, and things slide into place from foreshadowing in pleasing ways.
    Second, the voiced narration actually adds a lot for me. There’s a constant echo-ish effect to it, it’s clearly not a super high quality recording, but I find it charming. Combined with the rest of the voices in this fully voiced VN (not badly acted, but certainly not recorded with the best equipment), the weird style convention of leaving off most ending periods in text boxes, and the uhh, funky backgrounds, it feels very doujin. Alone, any of these elements would be less than ideal, but together it forms a gestalt I find strangely palatable. Though I still must insist that you really should still end your text boxes with periods – I got used to the style because it was consistent and repetition legitimizes, but it’s not going to be a good fit for most stories and arguably made even this one worse. Anyway, the aesthetic fits the drama-comedy flow of the story pretty well. I’m left with the impression that it all shouldn’t fit together so well, and yet it just does.
    So yeah, I really recommend this for a fun and engaging 30-60 minutes or so of content. Extremely positively surprised.
    Download free at: https://plotline-progenitor.itch.io/countdown-to-silence


    Okay, but as we all know I have autism, so let’s nitpick the craft a bit instead as I think the writer has potential and might read this. If you’re not into that, feel free to skip the rest of this.
    Hotkeys:
    Page up/down do nothing, despite the fact that they’re listed on the Help page! No hotkey to show message history, the SUPERIOR history function.
    UI:
    There’s no way to replay voice lines besides going back from a later line with rollback (and then they always play due to renpy rollback.) Rollback is the default backlog for mousewheel (my JVN soul cries for it to activate the backlog instead and then have scenario jump and voice replay buttons in that history). Uses default UI rather than anything custom as far as I can tell, though at least the modern Ren’Py default doesn’t make me want to tear my eyes out.
    Sound:
    Some voices are too hard to hear at the default music volume (full) while others are perfectly fine. I remember a scene where this made me have to go into the settings and lower the music volume to like half (which I left it at). I feel like this could have been avoided with more careful sound design.
    Why put this on your download page when you can just change the default settings???
    Music doesn’t fade out, it just cuts, which makes scene transitions feel unnecessarily and jarringly sudden. Especially the final line of the game suffers from this – it really needed a soft fadeout to mimic the emotion at that point. Overall, think about transitions more when scripting.
    Voices sometimes do not fully match the written line, though the wording is often better than the actual text. One voiced line even adds a word that was accidentally omitted in the text!
    Text:
    Apart from the aforementioned thing where sentences just end without punctuation half the time, there’s a few typos that could’ve been caught by a careful eye. The phrasing style, and well, the style in general is unusual and feels like veering into the relaxed conventions of, I don’t know, fanfic writing? With everything else it kind of works, but it certainly won’t work for just any tone, and you’ll need to be careful with this in the future. The voiced narration does help sell some fairly long sentences without punctuation, so it’s good we have it.
    …And that’s about it, I think.

    View the full article
  14. Like
    Dreamysyu reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Fallstreak (Free VN Review)   
    You probably saw many cataclysms in stories you’ve read or watched in the past. Disasters that were natural, technological or magical in nature, limited in scale or apocalyptic, resulting in short-lived crises or civilisation-ending. From Muv-Luv through Swan Song to I Walk Among Zombies, plot-oriented visual novels never shied away from presenting these kinds of scenarios, and along with literature, they’re uniquely positioned to explore deeper consequences they could have for both individuals and whole societies. 
                    Fallstreak, a free game released on Steam on October 2018 as a debut title of a small studio under the name Centicerise Productions, is one less-common EVNs tackling this topic. It does so by focusing heavily on a group of people affected by such a catastrophic event – mostly average folk, crippled physically and emotionally by the mysterious Fire of Collapse that ravaged their isolated country without a warning or identifiable source. It’s also, generally speaking, a wonderfully-produced piece of VN that I’m wary of recommending to people due to its surprisingly extreme content and open-ended story, quite clearly meant as an introduction to its world and a prologue to future games utilizing the same setting. So, what are the main reasons to check it out, or to skip on visiting the fantasy realm of Socotrine at least until Fallstreak’s continuation shows up?

    The amount of stories-within-a-story and subplots that are never elaborated upon makes Fallstreak feel more like a prologue leading to a proper story than a standalone experience
    Fallstreak’s Steam page claims that the game’s protagonist is Adelise Cotard, the daughter of Socotrine’s ruler and a little girl with a mind of an adult. Atypically mature due to the time she spends in the Golden Dream, a lucid dreamworld full of knowledge which she enters nearly every night, Ade is indeed the character through which we initially experience the story. These introductory chapters, rather relaxed and light-hearted, mostly follow her and her group of friends through some everyday situations – a normal life in which only physical scars some of them bear and occasional reminiscence hint at the dramatic past. However, she’s neither sole focus nor the only protagonist of the game. In its second half, when we start learning about other characters’ backstories and the details of Fire of Collapse though flashbacks, she’s not only pushed to the background but mostly absent, with crucial events taking place before she was even born. At this point, the game switches perspectives on a regular basis, focusing mostly on various members of the Lirit family, whose children are Adelise’s classmates in a private school for those orphaned or otherwise affected by the cataclysm.
                    In the meantime, we’re also introduced to a ton of information about Socotrine itself, a land isolated from the outside world by the apparently impassable, magical mist. Its impoverished, but stable history was shaken up by the arrival of a refugee convoy from beyond the barrier, around 20 years before the game’s main events. Bringing with them advanced technology and knowledge of the outside world, refugees affected drastically both the land’s political balance and the way of life of its people. Eventually, the convoy’s “Lost Children” revolted against the ruling aristocracy of Socotrine and brought in an era of prosperity. At the same time, the game opens many questions about their origins, actions after traversing the mist and their connection to the Fire of Collapse which nearly destroyed the whole realm. Adelise’s personal story is also apparently related to much of this, with the Golden Dream, her father’s dethronement of the Lost Children’s leader and her mother’s death all signalized as mysteries crucial to understanding Socotrine’s predicaments, although without many hints on how they’re actually significant.

    Fallstreak’s story turns bleak without much warning and introduces scenes that wouldn’t be out of place in the darkest of horror stories – it’s not a VN for those faint of heart
    If this sounds like a lot to fit into a relatively short, 80k-word VN, it definitely is. I also skipped a number of lore details and subplots that could be considered spoilers, and as you can imagine, very few of those receive any kind of answer or satisfying conclusion. The game does not shy away from extensive infodumps and introducing character after character, many of them either signalizing stories that might be told in the future or being little more than exposition props. It also includes allegorical stories told by various characters, which further draw the readers attention away from its actual plot-points and protagonists. At times the memorable, high-quality visual design and solid characterisation are main things preventing it from devolving into an incomprehensible mess. The unique characters and the sheer beauty of all visual assets make it easier to get immersed in the world and look past the absolute overload of story threads the game bombards you with, without ever tying most of them together.
                    While the pacing is definitely an issue in Fallstreak, the most problematic part might still be its tone: it often jumps from rather relaxing slice-of-life moments to unsettling mysteries, and then to over-the-top tragedy and absolutely grotesque violence. The aforementioned backstory of the Lirits is full of gut-wrenching moments, drastic enough to disturb even a relatively experienced and desensitized reader like me. I’m not sure all of them belonged in this story – some very much balanced on the border of absurdity and if they had a real narrative function beyond the sheer shock factor, it’s not clear at this point. It’s not a massive problem if you can handle that kind of content, but it definitely makes Fallstreak not an experience for everyone, especially because the intensity of these segments was not properly signalized by previous events and very much caught me by surprise.

    The visual design of Fallstreak is impeccable and helps a lot in fleshing out its characters and world, making them surprisingly memorable
    If what I wrote so far paints a pretty bleak picture, it’s because Fallstreak’s problems could’ve been fatal if not for how just this polished and well-put-together it is. The prose and dialogue, despite the heavy exposition and anachronistic jokes that I’m not sure make sense in the setting, are very solid. Elements such as character’s speech patterns and personality quirks save them from being forgettable in the overcrowded storyline. And in the end, it’s the beautiful visuals and music that really make it stand out. The characters look distinct and expressive, while backgrounds and CGs are hard to take your eyes off. The assets are also pretty abundant for a free VN, with just enough environments, sprite variants and full illustrations to consistently keep things fresh. The original soundtrack is very climatic, with mostly sombre piano tunes underlining the sad reality of the game’s world. It all comes together in a way that I’m not sure I’ve seen in another free VN.
                    So, ultimately, what do I make out of Fallstreak? It’s definitely not a bad game and the main problems it suffers from came rather from the developers being overly ambitious than a lack of effort. They definitely tried to fit too much into one package and didn’t follow up properly with new chapters. If I read it right and it is a starting point for a commercial franchise, we should already be seeing much more concrete signals about its continuation than the sporadic teasers present on the developer's social media. It’s not an abandoned project, considering I was directly approached by the studio behind it not a long time ago and the latest updates on the continuation are fairly recent, but whether you should read it depends mostly on whether you’re ok with reading a story that is essentially unfinished (and is going stay like that for a while), and whether you're willing to deal with its grimdark elements. For me, it was definitely worth the time I’ve spent reading it and as a free VN, that time is all it will ever ask from you.
     
    Final Score: 3/5
     
    Pros:
    + Beautiful visuals
    + Climatic soundtrack
    + Memorable main characters
    Cons:
    – Frequent infodumps and clunky exposition
    – Gets over-the-top with the brutality of the backstories
    – Feels more like a prologue than a full story
     
    VNDB Page
    Play Fallstreak for free on Steam
  15. Like
    Dreamysyu reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, What makes a great VN battle scene?   
    I had someone ask me why I consider some VN battle scenes to be good and others to be low quality just the other day, and I thought I would address this here.  
    First, I should state that while visuals definitely have an effect on the quality of a battle scene, the quality of visuals is less than 15% of the reasons why I pick one VN's battle scenes over another's.  The considerations when it comes to visuals are raw quality (artist skill, detail, etc), number of combat-related CGs and sprites, and the quality of the visual effects.
    More important (roughly 25% of the whole) is music and sound effects.  It is quite possible to turn a VN whose visuals are mediocre and writing are good into a masterpiece based solely on how the BGMs and sound effects are used.  I've seen it happen (Devils Devel Concept being a prime example), and I can honestly say that this aspect almost always trumps visuals when it comes to determining the quality of a given battle scene.
    Another 25% comes from context and presentation.  I split this evenly because these two factors tend to be inter-dependent in battle scenes.  Without the context, you can't tell whether you should care, and presentation (the art of bringing writing, sound, and visuals together to create a collaborative effect on the reader) quality can dramatically alter how you see the battle.
    The last 35% is all writing.  My prejudice would have put it at 50%, but realistically, in a VN, writing is at the very least 35% of what determines the quality of a battle scene.  The very simple reason is that making a battle scene interesting requires an eye for detail, for stringing descriptions of character actions, emotions, and words into a cohesive whole.  There are plenty of writers outside of the VN industry who only do this well and literally are incapable of 'peaceful writing'.  That is because what is demanded of writing during a battle scene is fundamentally different from what is demanded outside of battle scenes.  To be blunt, most VN writers have no idea of how to write a battle scene, which is why the good ones stand out so much.  'Tom blasted magic sword at Dave, Dave took it on his shield with a grunt' is about as far as it goes with most VN battle scenes... and that is fairly horrid, since there is no sense of what is actually going on in that exchange. 
    It isn't uncommon for VN makers with unskilled writers to simply substitute visual and sound effects for descriptions of the battle simply because the writer can only handle dialogue and minimal or copy-paste action lines.  However, this results in amazingly boring scenes, since there is usually almost no variation in visual or sound effects from scene to scene, action to action.  This means that they are essentially using a square block for a round peg.  I don't know how many third-rate battle scenes I've fallen asleep to over the years...  
    Anyway, ideally, a good battle scene should have all the elements come together in one cohesive whole.  However, in practice, that almost never happens.  About the only companies that have ever managed to do that consistently are Nitroplus, Light, and Propeller... and we all know what happened to Propeller and (more recently) Light. 
  16. Like
    Dreamysyu reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Chemically Bonded (Western VN Review)   
    Ds-sans is a British VN developer whose work I've been following since the times I started writing my blog, first being charmed by his free romance game Sounds of Her Love, (check out my review of it here). Released on Steam March 2017, this very tame and heartwarming, small love story was extremely by-the-numbers and rather cliched, but stood out through its solid execution and likeable heroine. Later, I’ve checked out this author’s first VN, Lost Impressions, which also proved enjoyable despite being something of a mess visually and including edgy story elements typical for many beginner VN writers – a rather standard amateur project, but showing traces of genuine talent.
                    As you can imagine, I was quite interested in reading ds-sans’ first commercial VN, Chemically Bonded, announced and successfully crowdfunded in late 2017. It promised to continue the wholesome, romantic climate of Sounds of Her Love, but with a more in-depth, branching story and better production values – pretty much a product catered exactly to someone like me, who enjoys fluffy slice-of-life content in VNs over pretty much everything else. After a full year of delays, the game finally came out on November 2019, proving to be… Very much a mixed bag. But, what could go wrong with a concept this straightforward and such a promising background?
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  17. Like
    Dreamysyu reacted to MayoeruHitori for a blog entry, Notes on the past and hope of Japanese visual novels.   
    Welcome to my blog.
    Where have we been? Where are we going?
    TIMELINE
    1980s:
    - Early eroge largely consist of still art (what we call pixel art now), very short dialogue/narrative elements, and some primitive interactive elements, while spanning many genres.
    1990s:
    - The point-and-click adventure game, which has its roots in 1980s video games, establishes itself as one of the most popular genres of eroge. Many games emerge which have interfaces that are visually similar to those of most point-and-click adventure games, but with gradually differing gameplay. These games are all collectively called "adventure games" or "ADV" in Japanese. The general style of having an interface which consists of a rectangular text box at the bottom of the screen, and a collage of visual elements meant to serve as a guide for what the main character sees, is also called "ADV". In other words, ADV becomes a genre that embodies a style of presentation.
    - The non-adult game company Chunsoft puts out Otogirisou, a kind of illustrated story in which pictures are placed in the background as visual aids while the full narrative is conveyed as overlaid text. This style of presentation is called a "novel game" or "NVL" in Japanese. The gameplay of Otogirisou purely consists of the player making choices on where to take the story, similar to "Choose Your Own Adventure" books, a simple yet powerful narrative tool which would prove influential to ADV as a whole.
    - Two major eroge brands that specialize in ADV, elf and Leaf, create popular games like Doukyuusei and To Heart. These games stand out from their competitors by the way they utilize talented artists and writers to focus on the personalities of charming heroines, rather than treating pixel porn as what matters and the characterization as an afterthought. This character-centric evolution is called a charage (character game) and encompasses both NVL (like Kizuato) and ADV. And with the release of YU-NO and Kamaitachi no Yoru, two ADV/NVL games that have well-written stories, the term scenarioge (scenario game) becomes more popular.
    1999:
    - Kanon is released by Key. It's the first time a large number of players became very emotionally moved by the story of an eroge, or any ADV at that. Even someone like Baba from Visual Arts, who was just a businessman without much personal interest in ADV, became interested after Kanon. Aside from inventing the nakige (naki game, which means "crying game") genre, it awakened in players a desire for longer scenarios as necessary to deepen their attachment to the heroines. But its most significant role is being the first major moege (moe game) at a time when the term "moe" wasn't even very well known.
    2000:
    - The doujin NVL Tsukihime comes out, and its quality lets it rank among the very top, if not at the very top, of both scenarioge and charage. See Popular Views on What Defines the Chuuni Genre for more info on the influence of Type-Moon's works.
    2000-2006:
    - Now that Kanon and Tsukihime have come out, it seems like a dam bursts and a flood of popular and influential ADV/NVL are released. There are comparatively fewer in 2001, with the most notable ones in my mind being Kiminozo and Kazokei. But in 2002 you have Ever17, Higurashi, Kusarihime, Baldr Force, Hello world, Da Capo, and others. And every year after that just has more and more top quality ADV/NVL. The biggest year is 2004, which sees the release of both Clannad and Fate/stay night (successors to Kanon and Tsukihime, respectively).
    - Around the middle of the decade, the term "visual novel" is invented among English speaking fans of these games, and basically refers to any game which has an ADV/NVL-style interface and a strong and constant narrative. Since the rest of the world directly bypassed the early history of Japanese eroge and ADV/NVL, they didn't bother with the origins of these styles of games, and just chose a term which seemed to more naturally describe the most famous and representative ADV/NVL. Since then, the term "visual novel" has been recognized by the Japanese too, although the broader Japanese playerbase still commonly thinks that VN is synonymous with "adventure game". In any case, the term is excellent and I like it.
    - Over the course of this decade, the major tropes and popular genres of VNs, which were mostly foreshadowed in the late 1990s, are firmly established and standardized. They include TIPs, unlockable routes/end, true ends, bad ends, hidden heroines, time loops/leaps, moe, chuuni, nakige, utsuge, imouto games, and many more. The diverse and awkward gameplay of the 1980s and 1990s more or less disappears.
    - Meanwhile, many of the most successful eroge companies like Key, Type-Moon, and Leaf/Aqua-Plus successfully rebrand themselves and reduce their focus on adult content for the sake of marketing their works to the rest of the Japanese "otaku" industries. They adopt the label of "bishoujo game maker". Many of their most popular IPs (intellectual properties) receive anime adaptations or evolve into multimedia franchises, with "Fate" being the most famous example. On the other hand, as these industries embrace VNs, they also learn from them and try to emulate that same appeal within their own IPs; Fate/stay night is especially influential as a progenitor of the "chuuni" genre.
    2006:
    - Statistically, eroge sales begin to decline. The industry itself doesn't immediately begin to decline, though, because investors take time to notice and react to such trends, companies are still in the midst of developing games, and they will try to shift strategies to fight the trend. The decline in sales won't slow down until 2012.
    WHY
    Causes of the trend? This was fiercely debated for years and still hasn't been completely settled. But it's more or less clear.
    VNs served as a creative outlet without rivals for several years.
    At first, in the early 1990s, nobody expect much from eroge. But as we entered the later part of the decade, that changed. Eroge was always a venue for weird and exciting scenarios that wouldn't be accepted elsewhere, and it was easier than ever to make quality audiovisual experiences, with multiple free or cheap VN engines available. Writers like Maeda Jun and Nasu took advantage of the medium's ease of entry, along with the freedom of expression it afforded. It was a fresh, mature alternative to the LN industry. However, that didn't last forever. Major publishers in other mediums distilled the parts of eroge that appealed most to players: the nakige components, the moe components, the fanservice and unapologetic harems, the handy sci-fi tropes, the balloon breasts. Everything except the deep emotional and mental investment that's only possible with literature. And of course, the mature themes and content.
    Above all, what VNs brought to the table was no longer as fresh to people. Without a sense of excitement, the fact that VNs require people to sit down and actually read continuously for hours became... problematic. The era of smartphones and social media also heralded the era of low attention spans. People came to think that "adventure games" = "boring". This was coupled with the fact that more and more people play bishoujo games on their smartphones, and who wants to play eroge in public?
    Waifu/husbando social games like Fate/Grand Order and Granblue Fantasy dealt especially heavy blows to players' interest in VNs. They let players pick between countless more waifus and husbandos than VNs, have more exciting plots to engage casual players (not some ordinary school life drama), have the slutty outfits and exaggerated figures of nukige heroines, continually put out new content for the most popular characters, let you put your waifu/husbando in your home screen so you can constantly look at her, and tap on the portrait of her/him to hear some flirty line voiced by a popular anime seiyuu. They even copied the feature of some VNs where you can give your favorite hero or heroine chocolates on Valentine's Day or White Day. The proof is in the recent anime Chuubyou Gekihatsu Boy where the "guy who's only interested in 2D girls" stereotype no longer involves VNs on a PSP, but rather depicts a social game on a phone. To be frank, even the latest Fire Emblem game probably makes VNs less appealing by comparison. The main draw of VNs was always the cute and flirty heroines and romance, but these elements have been thoroughly exported.
    The exact same situation arose with Japanese web novels on the site Shousetsuka ni Narou. An initial wave of authors pioneered new genres with certain distinctive tropes, most of them related to isekai, and started a trend which has dominated the Japanese web novel scene. But the mainstream LN industry quickly learned and started to put out its own isekai LNs, as well as aggressively recruit these authors (who naturally didn't object to being paid for what they'd initially put out for free online). A few years later, Narou's talents have more or less moved out, and the stories at the top of the popularity charts haven't been supplanted by any new talents. In any case, the major difference between Narou and the VN industry is that Narou authors are overall much better off with editors, whereas the transition from VNs to LNs/anime is absolutely a creative downgrade.
    WHAT DO
    1. Copy FGO.
    Social games are a natural evolution of the appeal of many VNs. Unfortunately, they're also largely vapid experiences with have less voice acting, silent protagonists, a massive cast of heroines who receive little character development, a disjointed narrative, a story that's mostly dialogue and constantly interrupted by battles, and many other flaws that prevent them from achieving literary excellence.
    These games have invariably underestimated how popular they'll become and worked with cheap art assets and flimsy storytelling, only to fix this by hiring better artists and writers for the more recent arcs of their ongoing main storylines. However, even those recent arcs are still shallow experiences compared to VNs. The best they can do is have good comedy--no one will ever feel as empathetic toward the characters as they do in VNs.
    But of course, despite the problems with social games' storytelling, they are still... inevitable. They will still successfully rake in cash from people with personalities prone to gambling addiction. So one VN company after another has tried to become the next FGO. Eushully, light, August, Key, Lilith, Frontwing, Nitroplus and many others have pursued social games, virtually all of which failed to really take off like FGO--in part because they weren't very well-made, and in part because the Fate franchise is more popular with more devoted fans.
    Frankly, this solution has been thoroughly pursued by all sorts of VN companies, and we know exactly what happens: it fails unless they're very lucky.
    2. Give up.
    This is a wise and fine choice. The river of life flows ever onward. Sometimes it's best to accept defeat.
    3. Make NOT a visual novel.
    Be Kodaka Kazutaka. Start from the idea that you want to make an adventure game. Then to appease your producer, call it a detective game instead, and add a 3D world with gameplay that takes place within it while occupying a lot of the player's time, so it in no way feels like a pure ADV. Make the narrative largely dialogue-driven. Write in a way that wastes less time on subtlety and imagery and takes more advantage of humor, twists, and action. Then call it Danganronpa and be successful, while feeling that you tricked the world by making an adventure game with the quality storytelling of an adventure game that doesn't feel like an adventure game.
    Too Kyo Games plans to water down a full-fledged ADV-quality scenario with meaningful realtime gameplay, by partnering with studios that actually know how to make fun games. It's a long-term experiment on tricking people into playing adventure games.
    4. Make a visual novel, but be better.
    Find a slightly new angle. Gather the A-Team. Target non-traditional markets. Cultivate one's prestige. In short, reorganize and rebrand. But still make a visual novel, with ordinary 2D art and probably little to no gameplay.
    The only problem is that people don't like VNs anymore because smartphones shrunk their brains until they had flea-sized attention spans. So at best, such "better" VNs will simply exist in the top tier of modern VNs, able to survive and maybe make a little profit. These are VNs for the sake of creators who want to stay in the VN industry despite how comparatively little it pays.
    Aniplex.exe, a new VN brand started under Aniplex that Makura staff like Sca-ji are involved with, seems to fall under this category. They're identifying as makers of "novel games" probably because that sounds more respectable these days than bishoujo game. I'm frankly more interested in Sca-ji's other still unannounced projects (but that's just because I'm not personally a fan of Konno Asta or Umihara Nozomu).
    5. Copy FGO, but EVOLVE.
    Before Light's "Pantheon" mobile game died mid-development, Masada planned for it to have a substantial scenario. That kind of story would fatally clash, like matter and dark matter, with social games as they exist today. Unless they rethought the entire premise from scratch, I assume they'd have to at the very least dilute such a lengthy narrative into segments with constant breaks, rewards, and mini-games. And they'd have to make a tough choice about whether they seriously want to market it for smartphones, or stick to PC like Granblue Fantasy.
    It's easier to not evolve or just give up. But moreover, I think industry veterans are just pissed off and unable to accept that something as amazing as VNs can't find its consumers anymore. So they will struggle. Visual Arts will struggle, for sure. Key pretended to be half-dead in their 20th anniversary message, but they were actually hard at work. They've let Maeda take on the scenario of a high budget smartphone game called "Heaven Burns Red". Will he be able to do for social games with "Heaven Burns Red" what he did for VNs with "Kanon"? I'm not too optimistic, since I haven't seen any indication that the overall story concept was Maeda's.
    6. ???
    To quote Sca-ji, a writer who's qualified to talk about the unique worth of eroge, from late October: "People across various otaku industries have said, 'I want the wonderful culture of eroge to stay alive.' They're going out of their way and doing many things to make that happen. If I'm pessimistic, this might be our last chance to revive this industry, so I'm cheering them on. Do your best. ... People around their late twenties to thirty years old have started to take positions of power in society, praising eroge and doing many things for us."
    ZZZ
    「Kanon」や「CLANNAD」「Angel Beats!」など…「泣きゲー」からアニメ原作まで、美少女IPを仕掛け続けた28年! ビジュアルアーツのユニークなブランド戦略と経営思想を馬場隆博社長に聞いてみた
    『ダンガンロンパ』、『東京クロノス』、『グノーシア』の開発者が語る。「アドベンチャーゲームは滅ぶのか?」緊急座談会
    「なぜエロゲ業界は衰退してるのか」 それをまとめた画像が話題にwwwww
    https://twitter.com/gannbattemasenn/status/1015644154271973376
    https://enty.jp/avestan
    https://twitter.com/sca_di
    https://vndb.org/
    EPILOGUE
    A new decade is upon is, and we're in the midst of a wave of 20th anniversaries that inevitably prompt retrospection.
    What I'm keeping an eye on, out of concern for the industry, as we enter it:
    - Too Kyo Games
    - Heaven Burns Red (unveiling on February 28) and Visual Arts as a whole
    - Sca-ji's Twitter account
    - Aniplex.exe as a whole
    - Any news from Masada about new publishers for Pantheon
    - Major non-adult scenarioge companies like Spike-Chunsoft and Mages (they may absorb some talent or try to carry on eroge culture)
    - Any actual new VNs from Nasu, like the Tsukihime remake
    ADDENDUM I: A Note on Death VS Decline (added 1/28)
     
  18. Like
    Dreamysyu reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Random VN: Boku ga Tenshi ni Natta Wake   
    This is perhaps one of the few games from my first five years playing untranslated VNs that isn't a chuunige that I remembered vividly.  I decided to pick this up again because I wanted some good catharsis, and I was tired of waiting for Mangagamer to get off their butts and actually release this. 
    Boku ga Tenshi ni Natta wake is what is called a 'soft utsuge', in the sense that there are no good endings but it focuses more on the bittersweet sorrow rather than the absolute despair of a 'hard utsuge' like Houkago no Futekikakusha.  Each of the first three heroines has a bad and a normal ending, and no matter what you choose, darkness awaits.  The fourth heroine, the angel Aine, is the true heroine and only has one ending (the true ending) which is also bittersweet, though there is some sense of salvation for the protagonist, albeit at a price. 
    The first three heroines are the aggressively helpful osananajimi (who is the only one of the heroines who knows his past) Naruko, the soft-mannered but somehow gloomy Yuri, and the standoffish Minamo.  Thankfully, only Naruko falls into an archetypical role (osananajimi characters have a very limited range of roles), which is nice for someone looking for something with unusual heroines. 
    This game focuses on a sort of tug of war between the apparently apathetic Kirinokojima Tomoe, who actively loathes romance in general, and the optimistic clumsy angel Aine, who believes in romance as the ultimate force for human happiness with all her heart.  Tomoe is kind-hearted under his apparently apathetic exterior, inevitably caring about what happens to the people Aine wants to help, but his belief that romance only brings suffering and is a force for evil in the world is so strong that he is constantly wavering on whether to go along with Aine or not.  This conflict, though it is not one born of malice, defines the main storyline, as the characters worry about what is best for the people involved.
    The first six chapters of the game are the common route, and each chapter covers a different romantic mess that draws Aine's attention.  These messes are never simple nor easily resolved, and regardless of which path Tomoe chooses in the end, nothing turns out perfectly.  The seventh chapter covers the heroine routes, which are much more intimate and have an impact that quite naturally surpasses that of the arcs of the common route.
    Yuri
    I advise anyone who plays this game to play Naruko's route third, regardless of which of the other two paths you do first.  I say this because Aine's (the true path) splits off immediately before you would otherwise head into Naruko's route... 
    Yuri's route is pretty... sick-minded.  Sorry, the writer of this game probably has a serious mental illness, and I shouldn't be insensitive about it, lol.  Anyway, there are hints of what Yuri's conflict is in the common route, but it escalates rapidly once you actually get to her route and her personal issues are laid bare.  Tbh, Yuri's route is the most horrifying of the initial three routes for reasons that become obvious to anyone who plays it, and I wept at the normal ending and was somewhat disgusted at the bad ending (both times). 
    Minamo
    Minamo's route is a bit less psychotic than Yuri's... but in exchange, the issues are more 'worldly' and familiar to the average reader.  The central conflict involves Minamo's work as an idol and a combination of her past issues, family issues, and the inevitable problems of a celebrity in Japan getting involved romantically with someone else.  While this path is milder than Yuri's, it is a lot easier to empathize with, and it also epitomizes Tomoe's nature to a greater degree than the other two paths. 
    I didn't bother with the bad ending this time, instead going for just the normal one.  The normal ending is bittersweet and strikes me as the ending that most fits Tomoe's personality outside of the true ending.  It is sad, though.
    Naruko
    This is by far my least favorite path in the game, though it isn't just because I dislike osananajimi paths.  I won't go deep into why I didn't like this path either time I played it, because I don't want to spoil anything important, but I will go ahead and cover the spoiler-free issues.  This path is the only one of the first three paths that actually touches upon the reason for Tomoe's apathetic/asexual personality, and it also is the only one that touches upon the truth of what the angels work is.  As such, it is absolutely vital that you play it before the true route even if you want to go straight to it, since the explanation isn't repeated in the true route.  Moreover, Naruko's route's normal ending serves as an example of the game's true central conflict that is vital for understanding the true route.
    True Route
    What can I say about the true route/Aine route?  It is by far the best path in the game (though the ending is still deeply bittersweet), and after you finish it, there is a sense of salvation for Tomoe that doesn't exist in any of the other paths.  I say a sense of salvation, but it is salvation at a cost, as is typical of every blessing any character in this game experiences.  This path reveals the fullness of why Tomoe hates himself to the point where he rejects all possibility of happiness for himself, and, to be honest, I replayed the rest of the paths solely so I could re-experience the heart-jerking events of this route in the same manner I did the first time. 
    I can recommend this to someone who wants catharsis and doesn't mind a darker atmosphere than you would see in a nakige.  It is also something I can recommend to utsuge lovers (if you liked Swan Song for the emotional elements, there is a good chance you'll like this).  I do not recommend this for people who want undiluted happy endings.
  19. Like
    Dreamysyu reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Clephas' Favorite VNs: Otome ga Tsumugu Koi no Canvas part 1   
    One of only two games written by Kazutaka, the writer of the somewhat comically-named Doushite Daite Kurenai no!?  Onna no Ko Datte Yaritai no! (incidentally, despite the title, the aforementioned game is not a nukige, which is in itself humorous, lol).  It is also the game that gave substance to Ensemble's quest to define itself as a specialist company in trap protagonist and ojousama-ge.  Ironically, it is also the flat-out best SOL game the company has ever made, which makes it somewhat sad for me that Kazutaka faded out after this game was released.  I can say right out that the only reason I still try Ensemble games is because of the experience I had with this one.
    One of the parts anyone who first plays this game will notice is that the protagonist is voiced.  More than that, 'Mizuki' is voiced by a female VA that was able to put a hint of androgyny into the voice, giving you the impression that it was quite natural that most people mistake him for a girl.  Another part of this game that is obviously noticeable from the start is that the writer has really done his research into the art field.  'Mizuki' has an extremely wide and deep knowledge of all forms of art and their care, and this serves as one of his (actually, it is easier to think of him as a girl with a penis, lol) charm points for the reader, along with his obvious love of housework. 
    One part that makes it easy to regard this game's path as being far more in-depth than the norm for an SOL-focused game is the way the choices are handled.  Essentially, before you exit the prologue, you will have already chosen your heroine, since all choices are concentrated in a very short period of time at the beginning of the game.  By choosing to essentially get the choices 'out of the way', the writer manages to avoid one of the most common pitfalls of VNs in general... breaking engrossment in the game by inserting choices into every important scene.  This game essentially ignores the lie of player agency (Clephas: Player agency in a VN, pfft), which is definitely a positive in this case.  This allows the protagonist's and the heroines' personalities and actions to become clear to the reader (and there is no doubt that you are a reader with this VN) without the interference of random choices or the need to keep which heroine you want to go for in the back of your mind constantly.
    Ootori Rena
    Rena is the game's obvious main heroine.  She is the daughter of the town's owner and permanent mayor (literally, their business bought the town in which the game is based).  She is also an art dealer from a family of art dealers.  It is tempting, at first glance, to call her a tsundere... but for once, this archetypical characterization fails.  Rena is very straightforward in how she expresses her feelings, having a policy of expressing her emotions openly regardless of what they are.  She is also very mature in the sense that she has a solid grasp on what her responsibilities are to those around her, coming from her upbringing as the successor of a family of primary art dealers (art dealers that primarily 'raise' artists and sell their works as opposed to buying artists' works that already have an established market value). 
    I say she is the main heroine, and indeed, her path is one of the few paths where the protagonist is forced to confront his own issues head on.  For better or worse, in most of the paths, Shin/Mizuki manages to avoid directly confronting his past and his own weakness, making this path an obvious favorite for me.  That said, this was the first path I played originally, so I couldn't help but play this one first again.
    Chiharu
    Chiharu is my yome!  lol  Seriously, if you were to ask me which heroine (as opposed to 'which girl' since Akie is my favorite girl... I love haraguro characters) touched my heartstrings (and my libido) the most, it would be Chiharu.  Chiharu is the single-minded but kind-hearted bodyguard that serves Rena.  She is very serious and kind-hearted, but it often shows in odd ways, because she is somewhat socially awkward.  Her reactions are also driven by her early upbringing and profession, the former of which was strict and the latter of which is professional security. 
    Chiharu's dere is... frighteningly powerful.  Oh, this can be said of all the heroines, really, but Chiharu is a very loving soul.  I love Chiharu's path for a lot of reasons, but the biggest reason is that she is, at heart, someone who just wants someone who can accept her from the bottom of their hearts, flaws, disabilities, and all.  This very human worry is what turned Chiharu from a two-dimensional character to a person in my mind.
    Also:  「だって幽霊って死んでるんだよ、死霊って生きてないんだよ、生きてなければ殺傷することもできないじゃないか、刀で死人は斬れないよ怖いよ!!」
    Chiharu "But ghosts are dead!  Ghosts aren't alive!  If they aren't alive, you can't kill them!  You can't kill the dead with a katana!  I'm scared!"
    「いえ、テレビは斬れます。寮の器物損壊はやめてください」
    Akie "No, but you can cut the TV.  Please refrain from damaging dorm property."
    Shizuku
    Shizuku is an art auctioneer and the daughter of the head of the Karasuma Group, a company that specializes in the resale of art.  She and Rena are on bad terms, not the least because their places in the art industry make it inevitable.  To most people, she is a sharp-tongued (dokuzetsu) but elegant-looking girl who dominates her surroundings by her very presence.  In private, she is an intensely loving and passionate woman who will do absolutely anything and everything for the person she loves.  However, she has a bad habit of jumping to conclusions (something that can be said of the other two heroines above as well, though not of Yuki and Anastasia), especially when it comes to Shin.
    Tbh, this is the most frustrating of the routes to speak of, because so much of her profile is spoilers for the other routes.  Let's just say there are some seriously hilarious antics that occur partly because of Shii-cha- *coughs* ahem, Shizuku's tendency to jump to conclusions, her willingness to do anything for the people she loves, and Rena's inevitable reactions, lol. 
    This path is primarily hilarious, but it also gets into the more intimate elements of Shin's 'why' in a way that even Rena's path doesn't.  Tbh, if I were to put a recommended route order up, it would be Rena>Shizuku>Chiharu>Yuki>Anastasia.  My reasoning for this is because this game actually benefits from experiencing it in an order that could be seen as 'main to sub' instead of 'sub to main' as I would normally recommend.  All the paths are good in their own ways, but the knowledge from Rena and Shizuku's paths enhance the experience of the other three paths to a rather large degree.  Moreover, playing Anastasia's path without having played Rena's would make it somewhat confusing, and I'm pretty sure some important points would be missed by first-timers. 
    For now, I'm going to stop, because I need to take a rest from SOL for a few days, but I'll finish this one up soon.
     
  20. Like
    Dreamysyu reacted to littleshogun for a blog entry, Sakura Literature Club Review   
    Welcome to VNTS Review, and as for this week I can say that it's more lively compared to the last week. The reasons is simply because we have man announcements and one of those announcement is Baldr Sky Steam store that was finally opened, although right now I'm quite anxious in that there's high chance that they'll censor it. Other than Baldr Sky Steam store, we have Seven Days release date announcements as well in which it's sort of Conjueror's Swan Song because it's his last translation job besides Rewrite+ before he doing the action that ended his life. We also have Mangagamer and fan translation updates as well, and JAST also join the updates here with them announced Kimikoi release month at February later. Let's see what I can write for this week here, and I'll explain the title at PS later (Of course it's not because Winged Cloud released yet another their Sakura VN, although I appreciate them though in that their recent VNs MC are always female instead of faceless male).
    For Baldr Sky Steam store, let's just say that I have mixed feeling on that. The reason is definitely not because Sekai still set the release date as soon (I understand if they need more time to polish the engine), but rather it's because apparently it'll be censored according to the rumor. While I can just dismiss the rumor as nonsense, I start to see that there's some indication that the release will be lack of sex scenes. The silent response from Sekai there didn't really help at all, and in fact it make it worse. In the end, if the censorship must be happen, then I'll obviously blame GIGA because it mean that they're the same as Pulltop and that Sekai releases always have 18+ patch add on. So for now I just hope that whatever GIGA planned in regard of the replacement for the sex scenes should be worth the trouble if the censorship is inevitably happened, and if it's very important to them. At least I can say that the font is far better compared to what we see at Baldr Force which show a hard work from Sekai's programmer, seeing that the engine is supposed to be very hard to crack.
    I'm not surprised to see that JAST delsy both of Katahane and Flowers Autumn releases seeing that the fall is already over and that there's no word about those two, but instead I'm very surprised with JAST suddenly announced that their Kimikoi are already ready for the release at February later. For more info, they also already have the pre-order for that. So if you want to see on why Kimikoi here is occasionally alluded as well known Doki Doki Literature Club predecessor and want to see 'passionate Hitomi Nabatame-voiced love-making' scenes (And moreso if Baldr Sky is really censored later on), you can do the preorder at JAST's site. For now I'll just hope that JAST didn't delay Kimikoi release at February later.
    From Mangagamer, we have some updates from them at their usual biweekly updates. The updates are Sukehime was fully edited, Rance 02 was halfway edited, Sona-Nyl was at 55% edited, WanNyan image editing was completed, and Sakuramori was about to enter the testing soon. Out of those announcements, I'm interested with Sakuramori the most so I hope that the testing for it would be going well.
    We have Ninetails released the new demo for Frontier, so perhaps you may try the new demo before decided whether you'll get Frontier that'll be released at 20th later or not. Speaking about the upcoming releases, we have a rerelease of a nukige by Cherry Kiss at this month (I'll just say that it's a redundant one because it's already fantranslated), and Seven Days at two days later (13th) in which it's been famous as the VN that was created from the crowdfund. I have not much to say other than I hope the releases will be successful.
    For the fan translation, currently we finally have Loverable was past three quarters (75.22%) edited and Miotsukushi Omote waa at 68% translated. We also have new project with the current progress was at almost halfway (49.7%) translated, and the VN in question is Chiccakunai Mon in which apparently it's a loli nukige so you may need to be very open minded if you want to play this later (I'll pass this anyway). Lastly we have a surprise new Amayui rough patch release that apparently translated 63% of the narration and that it's still not TLC-ed, which is fine enough to me seeing that I already survive Soukoku no Arterial 'translation'. While it sounds good enough, unfortunately I can't check in regard on how much the narration that was translated so let's just say that I'll pass on Amayui's partial patch here until there's a 100% translated narration patch in the future (Whether it's fully TLC-ed or not).
    That's all for this week VNTS Review, and sorry for being late here. See you next week.
    PS - For the title, the 'Sakura' part here is obviously from Sakuramori. As for the 'Literature Club' here, it's in regard of Kimikoi release month announcement which as we know it have similar twist like a certain very well known free OELVN (Doki Doki Literature Club).
  21. Like
    Dreamysyu reacted to MaggieROBOT for a blog entry, A second chance for Taisho x Alice!!!   
    Taisho x Alice was sadly remembered in the western otomege fandom for one of the worst otome localizations disasters. It read like garbage, had several bugs and it featured amateur english voice acting as if reading engrish wasn't enough. It failed so spectacularly the localization didn't even get past episode 1 out of 3. Well, thankfully tbh. Still, the damage was there and for a long time we believed we would never see a proper localization of this cute fairy tale reimagination in the west.
    Until now.
    Primula (TaiAli developer) decided to give english audiences one more chance, complete in a multilanguage package with japanese and chinese options to boot! Rejoice folks as Taisho x Alice episode 1 is now available on steam with a proper translation (translator this time around is our precious verdelish and from what I read from her previous VN translations it's likely top notch)! Episode 1 have only 2 heroes but they have full proper routes. The rest is in episodes 2 and 3, coming soon if episode 1 sells well enough. It's not always we get second chances in VN localization scene so let's say one huge thank you to Primula and support if you can and if you dig cute otomes! *points to strong female protagonist tag in VNDB, hint, hint*
     
    DISCLAIMER: sadly I wasn't paid for this promotion, I did it out of hype alone.
  22. Like
    Dreamysyu reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Sorceress Alive   
    Originally, when this game came out, I bought it, played the first part of the prologue, facepalmed over the protagonist's actions, then dropped it.  I still don't think that choice was a mistake, even now.  That's not to say this is not an excellent game (it is), but the fact is that Kouki being a total doofus at times is annoying as hell. 
    This game is split into two parts, Sorceress and Alive.  The two parts have significantly different story progression and outcomes, and it would be safe to say that Sorceress is a different game from Alive in many ways.  Sorceress can be called a 'combat sport charage', as it focuses primarily on the heroines, romance, SOL, and the Rave tournament.  This in itself is quite an enjoyable example of the sub-genre, though the gap between Kouki in his 'strategist mode' and his 'dense doofus mode' is startling at times. 
    Alive is more of a plotge with chuunige elements (I've had people describe it as a chuunige, but it doesn't have most of the major qualities of one).  The story there is darker and much denser, showing sides of the various characters you can't see in Sorceress.  Though, tbh, it is bound pretty tightly to some tropes familiar to most otakus. 
    The heroines are Azuria, Akina, Yuzuriha, Miya, and Riri.  Riri only has an ending in Alive, but she does play a role in both parts of the game. 
    Azuria is your typical mother-like oneesan character... with the classic physical features to go along with it.  Of the five, I think she has the strongest personality second only to Yuzuriha, who is intense behind her calm appearance.   She wields earth magic, which she uses mostly in a defensive manner at first (though she does expand her repertoire).
    Akina is your typical 'fire magic tsundere'.  To be honest, there really isn't any need to explain her further if you've seen any number of anime tsunderes with fire magic.  They all act the same way and are equally predictable.  Her relationship with Kouki ends up somewhat like that of Yuuji and Shana in Shakugan no Shana (the first half of the season) in some ways.
    Yuzuriha is the quiet bullied girl of the group.  She uses ice magic, and her manner seems to reflect this...  However, she is probably the most passionate and loving of them all by several degrees.  Her relationship with Kouki has a rather larger portion of psychological dependence than the other paths, but I still think of her as the strongest personality of the group.
    Miya is the apparent 'imouto' character, constantly clinging to the protagonist, always with a mischievous smile on her face.  While there are definitely hidden depths to her personality, it is somewhat hard to get at them early on.  She wields wind magic, which reflects her (apparent) whimsical nature.
    Riri... is your typical arrogant tsundere ojousama, with fight-loving traits blended in.  To be honest, she has the least amount of character development, so I have to say I think she got gypped.  That said, she is a great rival for the Sorceress part of the game, and a wielder of darkness magic.
    An important character to keep in mind is Yuumi, who is the most powerful mage in the school, a wielder of light magic that dominates her opponents easily.  Her personality is apparently hedonistic and driven by the whimsy of the moment.  She also is extremely lazy.
    Sorceress
    I'll state here again that Sorceress is basically a charage with battle elements tacked on.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing.  The 'working together to win the tournament' element provides an excellent reason for the protagonist to get close to the heroines despite his original meeting with Akina, and the actual individual story progression is quite good.
    However, except for Yuzuriha's ending, the character endings were somewhat disappointing in comparison with the deeper character development of the common route and the drama of their individual routes.  This is understandable in retrospect, if you've played Alive, but it was still irritating.  Considering how much the romance of the paths built up the characters' dreams for the future, the lack of a 'significantly after' factor to the endings was disappointing.
    The action in this game in general is about the same as a low-end chuunige (reasonable action, low on descriptions of what happened...). 
    Alive
    Alive is a far darker story, which strips away the veil hiding the nature of the Queendom (females are dominant due to a low rate of male births), and there is a lot of death and destruction...  For those who loved the characters in Sorceress, Alive can be painful at times, though the catharsis is pretty decent, especially in the middle and later parts of the story. 
    To be honest, due to the structure of this game, it is really, really hard not to spoil anything important.  So, I'll just say that the story is good... for what it is.  It is not terribly unpredictable (though I imagine some will think there is a light mindfuck in there), and the twists were rather obvious.  However, for what it is, it is enjoyable. 
    That said, it isn't without a few severe flaws endemic to its structure.  Alive is essentially a single path with seven endings (one normal, five good, and one true).  As a result, there is little effort to give further life to such characters as Riri or Yuumi (until near the end), and I was immensely disappointed with how the endings were handled... in particularly the true ending.
    While the five main girls all have a 'years after' ending, the lack of a harem ending (I'm not joking) after making all the girls fall in love with him (not kidding) is just ridiculous.  In addition, the true ending fell flat... yes, it was nice in an abstract sense, but for someone who read through the last part of the main path on the edge of his seat, I had to wonder what the writer was thinking.  While it does bring tears to the eyes somewhat, there were at least a half-dozen ways it could have been easily turned into a bawling tear-jerker final scene that would have had all the readers dribbling snot and going through whole tissue boxes.  This lack  of a satisfying catharsis to top off the game was a somewhat flat ending to an otherwise excellent game.
  23. Sad
    Dreamysyu reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Venting sorrow: I lost my cat today   
    I love my cat.
    Let’s get that out of the way from the beginning. Even though she is gone, as of today, I have never, for one moment, believed that I would ever stop loving her. For seventeen years and eight months, this calico wonder has made her home in my heart, never failing to wrap me around her paw and jerk me around by my heart strings.
    As the undisputed mistress of all she surveyed (all eleven rooms and corridors of it), she has dominated the lives and conversation of our family for almost long enough for a child to have graduated from high school. In a very real sense, she was one of the most important pillars of our family, and her presence both lightened the atmosphere and gave us something to talk about even in the darkest of times.
    My cat loved people… primarily because she knew a few stares and quiet nuzzles could get any given person to pet her or give her what she believed she wanted at any given moment. She liked being with people, even if it was just in the same room, completely ignoring one another (incidentally, her favorite game).
    In her youth, distant as that is to me now, she was a rambunctious and hyperactive ball of calico fluff, her medium-length fur usually disheveled from one event or another until she chose to let us smooth it out. When we got saltillo tile on the first floor, she could be found with red dust on her belly constantly until it was sealed. When new carpet was put into the master bathroom, she was the first to roll on the floor, and when new furniture was brought into the house, she was always the first to ‘test’ it. Heck, I couldn’t keep her out of my computer chair when I wasn’t sitting in it.
    As she grew older, she retained many of her kitten-ish traits, being enthusiastic and affectionate to often extreme degrees, given our previous experiences with cats. She purred loudly, meowed insistently, ran at ridiculous speeds only to slam into walls, and generally made us laugh and smile.
    When we went out of town, she always made her displeasure known upon our return.
    She was an inside cat, mostly by our choice. While she enjoyed short periods outdoors, she could generally be trusted to want back in whenever her slaves decided to go back in, due to an incident with a coyote in her misspent (I can hear her indignant meow at the thought of her time ever being misspent in my head, even now) youth. If her life was a somewhat boring one by feline standards, she made up for it by being loved and lovable in general.
    When she first became ill, over a year ago, I had my first close encounter with absolute panic. The cat, as we always referred to her (subcontext: Empress) as being, was listless, had lost her appetite, and she had, for some reason, decided that my sink was her new home.
    We took her to the vet, where she was diagnosed as having thyroid problems, as is typical in elderly cats (as she was by this time). We began giving her medicine on a daily basis, and for some time, she was doing relatively better, even if she never quite regained the spunk and vigor of the now-lost past.
    However, a month ago, what vigor had returned to her was rapidly lost. She gradually ceased to eat, began to have bowel problems… and she began to starve to death. The only time she seemed happy was when she was sleeping on one of us, being lightly caressed, comforting herself with her own purrs.
    It was with a heavy heart that we listened to the vet start speaking of quality of life, a typical speech made whenever a loved one nears death… and, our hearts already broken, we eventually assented to euthanasia.
    Less than five hours later, I don’t know if it was the right choice. Was it a mercy, an act of love? Was it a betrayal of the absolute trust one can only gain from an animal when that pet is treated as family? Or was it something in between… I can never know. While I understood many things about my cat, I will never know what she thought on this, her last day, what she felt toward us as she went into the final sleep.
    I will never know. There are so many things about that last day that I will never know. I feel my heart breaking all over again as I write this. I feel the empty feeling of loss. The standard words are no comfort. The euphemisms and trite words of comfort that come out of people’s mouths at times like this feel like excuses and obfuscations. The bitter flavor of grief sours food in my mouth and makes the world a darker place.
    I can’t even make the excuse that she wouldn’t want me to grieve for her… because she is a cat, and no cat would ever miss out on a chance to be the center of attention.
  24. Like
    Dreamysyu reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Soundless -A Modern Salem in Remote Area- (Western VN Review)   
    There were few EVNs in the last few years that I’ve seen seriously hyped up by other VN fans and brought to my attention through multiple recommendations and positive reviews – particularly beyond titles by a handful of relatively well-known and respected creators such as ebi-hime. The game I’ll be writing about today, Soundless -A Modern Salem in Remote Area-, is one of such exceptions, enthusiastic opinions about which intrigued me to a major degree, even though it ended up being two years before I finally picked it up. And this is not where the curious and unusual things about it end: this freeware visual novel was released in late 2017 by a small circle under the name of Milk+ and is heavily influenced by the denpa subgenre of horror – one reliant on distortion of reality and chains of bizarre events, true meaning of which is usually hidden under multiple layers of mystery. It mimics extremely well the visual style and climate of the early 2000s’ Japanese games, offering a now rarely-seen call-back to parts of visual novel history highly nostalgic to many fans. And thankfully, there’s a lot more to it than just the interesting stylisation and riding on memories of the past…
    Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com
  25. Like
    Dreamysyu reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Thoughts on Tokyo Babel (a summary after my fifth playthrough)   
    First, as I state in the title, I'm coming off my fifth playthrough (all paths and endings) of Tokyo Babel.  As such, I am - very obviously - deeply fond of the game.  I'm also a fan of the writer Higashide Yuuichirou (for reference, he also wrote Ayakashibito and the scenario for Fate/Apocrypha). 
    However, in this post I wanted to address some of the complaints I get from those who play the game.  First, I will address the major complaints I've taken personally from those who read or have read it untranslated, then those who read it translated.
    Untranslated
    1.  'This doesn't feel like a Higashide game/isn't as good as his other games!'  For better or worse, Higashide went in a different direction, style, and approach in Tokyo Babel in comparison to his previous works.  Ayakashibito is the basis for most untranslated Higashide fanboys' love, but it needs to be said that anyone who has played the two games will barely see any resemblance beyond the writing style. 
    Ayakashibito was about a young man struggling against the world as he tried to carve out a life for himself with his adoptive sister.  His emotional struggles with unreasonable and unreasoning prejudice, as well as the active malice of powers both great and small, struck a chord in a lot of the people who read it.  Moreover, it is by far the most slice-of-life focused of all Higashide's titles, whereas a huge portion of Tokyo Babel is fighting, preparation for fighting, and dealing with conspiracies.
    2.  'I loved Dies Irae and this was recommended to me based on that, but it doesn't match up.'  This one makes me laugh.  Sorry, I'm not trying to be contemptuous, but, despite some surface resemblances, Tokyo Babel is wildly different from Dies Irae.  Higashide is not a poet.  Masada is.  Higashide is calculating where Masada is impulsive.  As such, I can honestly say the only resemblance between the two is that they both have a preference for fantasy and melodrama.  Dies Irae is an opera, whereas Tokyo Babel is more straightforward and to the point, in comparison.
    3.  'Why is there no ero?  All his other games had ero, so why not this one?'  I have to wonder if anyone but me was surprised at this one being the third most common complaint I got from those I recommended this game to.  Yes, his other games have a mix of good and horrid ero (Ayakashibito is particularly infamous for its side-character scenes), but Tokyo Babel was written from beginning to end as an all-ages novel.  Surprisingly, I agree with those who think the lack of ero in Tokyo Babel had a negative effect.  To be blunt, I can't see Lilith not finding a way to shove Setsuna into Raziel's futon or failing to trap him in a room alone with Sorami... and that's setting aside several moments in her path that would have made for some great 'desperate and somber H' scenes.  Higashide, for all that his ero scenes were sometimes awful (again, Ayakashibito), always made them relevant to the story and used them to enhance its flow... something many chuuni writers who utilize ero content fail to do.
    4. 'What the heck is it with this game's weird mix of styles?!'  I'm not an art bigot, so I'm not the best person to answer this question.  This game's art style differs from previous Propeller games to a significant degree at times.  Is that a good or bad thing?  Hard to answer... though I do think the decision to make the main characters look younger than in previous games (with some exceptions) was questionable, lol.
    Translated
    1.  'What is with the translation?!!!!'.  Aah... this is the idiot argument.  Sorry, but I've said this a thousand times before 'Japanese to English translation is an oxymoron'.  Conjueror was pretty much the only translator brave enough to jump into translating something like Dies Irae or Tokyo Babel precisely because fans of this type of game are such a-holes when it comes to translations.  Yes, it isn't perfect.  Yes, it doesn't somehow magically mirror Higashide's brilliance perfectly.  However, I would like to make a few major points for those who insist they could do better...
    Japanese has numerous concepts, sayings, and even casual phrasing that simply don't translate into English without a much larger number of words to fill in the gaps in the language.  One reason I always recommend anyone who can read a game in Japanese (even if they have to use a parser and text hooker) do so is because it is impossible to perfectly replicate everything in a localization to English.  It is possible to get across many concepts with creative language and a wide vocabulary in English, but that sometimes means spending minutes or even an hour on a single line, trying to create something that can somehow retain the best parts of the original.  Chuuni translations tend to be awkward (both anime and games) because the language used requires more of this, and it becomes too easy to fall into the habit of robotically spewing out the translation instead of actually writing it into prose (look at the FGO cell phone game and you'll see what I mean).
    2.  'This wasn't as dramatic as I thought it would be!'  This one puzzles me... but then, I never played the game all the way through in English (I went up through the Miyako fight in Raziel's route to get an idea of what it was like), so maybe more was lost in the localization toward the middle and end than I thought. 
    3.  'The subject matter made me uncomfortable'...  Ah yes, this one.  To be honest, even I felt the remnants of my upbringing pounding on the doors of my psyche at times when I played this game.  To be blunt, to anyone brought up in a devout Christian (or even Muslim) household, playing any of the routes can be enormously uncomfortable at times.  By the nature of the process of 'suspending disbelief' that occurs when you read something fantasy, your prejudices and upbringing inevitably play into how you see the game.  To be blunt, by Christian standards, this game is blasphemous, lol.  In Japan, due to the way the divine is seen (impossible to explain if you haven't studied it, so I won't go into this here), this game doesn't feel that way.  However, this game can cause some odd reactions in some Westerners.
    4.  'I don't get the humor.'  Sad to say, but a good portion of humor in Japanese VNs simply doesn't translate very well.  The funniest scene in the game (in my opinion) is the drunken party in Sorami's path... but there are several points in this scene that don't translate (think plays on Japanese wording, puns, and phone number styles) that had me cracking up every time.  Sad to say, but, for those playing translated JVNs, this is something you'll just have to live with.
     
    Conclusion
    I didn't really refute any of the complaints here... but I did try to address them.  Tokyo Babel is one of the few of my favorite games that have been translated (though more of them have been in recent years, including Hapymaher and Dies Irae), but it is also the one of my translated favorites that is most likely not to be mentioned when someone is asking about this type of game. 
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